Loyalist parade re-routed to ease tensions

The organisers of a loyalist band parade in Coleraine have decided to change their route in a bid to ease community tensions in the town, it emerged tonight.

The event on Saturday week had been due to pass the nationalist Heights area where Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid, 49, was beaten to death by a Protestant mob five months ago.

Since the murder, inter-community relations in the Co Derry town have been severely strained, with outbreaks of sporadic violence.

Members of the UVF Memorial Regimental Band Association have now agreed to amend their planned march in an effort to avoid a confrontation.

Progressive Unionist Party representative for the area Ken Wilkinson commended the move.

"This is a decision which shows maturity and leadership," he said.

"It will certainly ease tensions within the Coleraine area."

While the Parades Commission has yet to receive a formal notification of the route change, it is understood the organisers will submit one in the coming days.

One of the bands due to take part in the parade is the Freeman Memorial Flute Band, which is named after a UVF man blown up outside Coleraine police station in 1975.

Eleven people have already been charged in connection with the brutal killing of Mr McDaid - seven of them with murder.

The father of four was battered to death close to his home in Somerset Drive by a loyalist mob which stormed the area after Rangers beat Celtic to the Scottish Premiership title.

There have been constant claims of threats against witnesses and earlier this month the High Court in Belfast was told that more than 20 people are under death threats.

A man who was critically injured in the same attack as Mr McDaid has since been targeted and beaten up a second time.


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