Traffic warden told she will ‘roast in hell’ during argument at Portadown open air church service

Rev Darryl Abernethy discussing a parking issue with a traffic warden.
Rev Darryl Abernethy discussing a parking issue with a traffic warden.
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A church minister involved in a row with a traffic warden at an open air service has distanced himself from a comment made that she would ‘roast in hell’.

The argument over parking was caught on camera with Rev Darryl Abernethy claiming they had been parking the car there for the service for 40-years.

Rev Abernethy, of Bethany Free Presbyterian Church, in a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, said: “Since the incident took place it has been brought to my attention that the traffic warden was told that she would ‘burn in hell’.

“This comment should not have made in the circumstances and my understanding is that the individual who made the comment is not a communicant member of Bethany FPC.”

The video has been shared widely on social media - with the incident taking place on the plaza in Portadown town centre on May 25.

It shows the parking attendant explaining the vehicle cannot be parked in a pedestrian zone. She said the car was on an area covered by double yellow lines.

During the argument a man asks her if she would “go down the Garvaghy Road and book cars” and added “you will roast in hell”.

The attendant asked where the Garvaghy Road was as she is not from Portadown.

During the exchanges a man points out to the attendant the British Legion park their trailers on the plaza to which the attendant responds: “The British Legion have the badge of the Queen which means they can park wherever they want and do whatever they want to do, because they are on behalf of the Queen.”

She added; “Any religion, as far as I am aware is not on behalf of the Queen. The Queen may be religious but it’s not the other way round.”

When it was pointed out to her the Queen is ‘The Defender of the Faith’ she responds: “Defender? So does bad things for your faith?”

She also said: “My job lets me speak free. I don’t want to be preached to.”

At one stage the attendant asks two people standing speaking to her to move back, saying she will call the police.

A third man approaches, and is ushered away by Rev Abernethy, as the attendant contacts a colleague on her radio for assistance.

During his exchanges with the attendant Rev Abernethy asks the attendant would she ticket a funeral hearse parked there.

The traffic attendant replied: “We don’t go near funerals, we don’t disrespect the dead.”

Rev Abernethy responded: “You don’t disrespect the gospel open air, for two weeks running, we have done this for 40 years.”

The traffic warden then explains to the church minister that in the last six months double yellow lines have been painted and legislation has come into effect that no cars can park in that area.

He then says there has been a car parked in that area for 40 years during the event and says he will “take it up with the relevant authorities”.

A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “NSL is contracted by the Department to carry out parking enforcement duties across Northern Ireland.

“The Department has only now become aware of the incident and will seek further information from NSL.

“Traffic Attendants have been carrying out parking enforcement duties here for many years and they deserve the same level of respect as any other worker.”

The Rev Darryl Abernethy told the Belfast Telegraph: “For forty years a car has been parked by the open air for the duration of the meeting. Until 25th May 2019 we have never been asked to move the car or been issued with a ticket.

“On Saturday 25th May the open air meeting was interrupted by a young traffic warden and we were told to move the car immediately otherwise it would be ticketed.

“I told the traffic warden we would be finished in five minutes but this didn’t satisfy her.

“A conversation ensued and I took the warden’s number and told her we would take the matter up with the relevant authorities, which we have.

“If the law has recently been changed in relation to parking restrictions in Portadown we will readily comply with them.

“The incident was secretly recorded and posted online without our knowledge.

Rev Abernethy concluded: “We are happy to have the matter officially clarified and will abide by any parking restrictions once they are.”