I genuinely pity screaming sectarian gang, says unionist victim

DUP councillor James Shiels
DUP councillor James Shiels

A unionist councillor has suffered what he described as his third “sectarian hate crime” in a month.

Councillor James Shiels, a DUP member of the Carntogher area of Mid Ulster District Council, said that a car had pulled up at his house to the south of Maghera shortly after 1.50am on Friday.

He said that “republican slogans and sectarian remarks” had been “screamed” by the occupants, who did not leave the vehicle.

He estimated there were four or five, but added that it had been “pitch black”.

At least one occupant had been a girl.

Asked if any vandalism had occurred, he said: “Not this time.”

Some damage to property caused during the past incidents.

The first one had been on July 15/16, and the next on August 5.

He said: “These people clearly have nothing to else to do except spend their nights driving round looking for people to intimidate, and I genuinely pity them, more than anything else.

“People don’t want this type of activity in the area, but sadly some in the Republican community just can’t move on from the dark days of our recent past.”

He added: “Recently I have spoken out against illegal fuel laundering, drugs and intimidation of unionists in the south Londonderry area, and it is clear some would prefer it if I just kept my mouth shut and looked the other way like some others.”

He said he had been “encouraged” by the response offered by the PSNI.