BELFAST- Police in Northern Ireland charged seven men on Thursday with the murder of a Catholic community worker which has stirred up sectarian tensions in the British-controlled province.

Kevin McDaid, a father of four, was beaten to death last weekend in Coleraine, about 55 miles from Belfast. His wife, a Protestant, was badly beaten trying to stop the attack.

The seven, along with one other man, were also charged with the attempted murder of Damien Fleming, police said. They range in age from 18 to 50. Another man was charged with affray.

Two other men were arrested later on Thursday, bringing the total number of people detained in connection with the attack to 14. Two men have been released without charge and one was released on bail, pending further enquiries.

Despite a 1998 peace deal that ended the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) military campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland, violence and intimidation remain a pervasive problem.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness warned in a Reuters interview on Wednesday of rabid sectarianism between the pro-Irish Catholic community and their pro-British Protestant neighbors.

McDaid was murdered as Northern Ireland's divisive marching season gets under way.

Protestants hold a series of marches during the summer months, peaking on July 12 when they celebrate a centuries-old military victory over Catholics. The marches are often a trigger for rioting and fights.

A Protestant group has voluntarily agreed to re-route a march on Friday away from the scene of McDaid's murder, the Parades Commission said.

The Pride of the Bann Parade will comprise 2,000 marchers and 40 bands.

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins and Padraic Halpin; editing by Andrew Roche)