SDLP MLA ‘in shock’ after being ‘surrounded by loyalists’

East Londonderry SDLP MLA John Dallat.
East Londonderry SDLP MLA John Dallat.

An SDLP MLA described himself as “in a state of shock” after being “surrounded by loyalists” in Kilrea, Co Londonderry on Friday evening.

East Londonderry MLA John Dallat said a group surrounded his car on Main Street, banged on the windows and shouted at him while taking photographs.

Mr Dallat told the BBC it was a “nasty experience”.

He said that after he returned to his car after picking up a takeaway meal, he was “surrounded by what might be described as a mob armed with mobile phones taking pictures of me, battering on the windows of my car”.

He continued: “For the first time in my life, despite a past that was often threatened, I dialled 999 and in a very short time, the police came.

“I am most grateful to them for rescuing me.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police received reports of a concern for safety from a 70 year old male at 8:50 pm on Friday, 16 June in the Main Street area of Kilrea. Police were in the vicinity at the time due to a band parade taking place and were able to assist in resolving the incident.”

Mr Dallat continued: “Kilrea is a town I’m extremely proud of, where respect for diversity is acknowledged by everyone and I’m sorry that it happened there because that’s not the image we have.

“I was doing what many parents, or grandparents do on a Friday night and that is to collect some hot food and share it out with the family. That’s my wind down on a Friday.

“I thought we were past all of this, I thought I was free to go to my own town without being intimidated.”

He added: “This is a step back for me as I’ve spent my whole life trying to encourage moderate politics and respect for different cultures, and I’ll continue to do that.”