Northern Ireland

MLA Dallat's car attack claim challenged by marshal

John Dallat
Image caption John Dallat insists his car was attacked and that police had to come to his rescue

A marshal at a loyalist parade has disputed a politician's claim that band supporters surrounded his car and attacked the vehicle as he was inside.

SDLP MLA John Dallat said a crowd banged on the windows of his car and shouted at him during a 20-minute ordeal in Kilrea, County Londonderry.

Mr Dallat said he phoned 999 and police rescued him during the incident on Main Street on Friday night.

But parade marshal Mark Heaney has contradicted the MLA's claims.

The behaviour of the bands on Friday night was "totally faultless", Mr Heaney told BBC Radio Ulster.

"We always make a point of speaking to police after the parade to see if there are any issues, and bar minor traffic issues, there were no incidents in Kilrea that evening," he said.

Speaking on Monday morning, Mr Heaney said Mr Dallat had pulled out in his car into a gap between two bands.

"As soon as he pulls out there's another band coming up the street," he said.

"At no stage - his car was in full view of myself the whole time - at no stage was anybody surrounding his car.

"The only time anybody was near Mr Dallat's car was whenever a band was coming up and trying to get past him."

'Cornered like an animal'

However, Mr Dallat insists his car was attacked and that he gave an accurate description of the incident.

The East Londonderry MLA reiterated that he was "petrified out of his mind" and was still recovering from the ordeal.

Mr Dallat also rejected any suggestion that he obstructed the parade route with his vehicle.

"I wish his [Mr Heaney's] version of events was true, I wouldn't be struggling this morning to try to come to terms with the experience I had on Friday night when my car was completely surrounded, pictures taken of me through the windscreen, through the side windows, banging on the roof and all that kind of thing," he said.

"All I wanted to do was get out of the town.

"I can still see that battery of mobile phones, flashing and taking pictures, having me cornered like an animal - it was really horrible stuff."

The MLA added that photographs of his car which had been posted on Facebook were taken after he had been rescued by police, and not during the confrontation.

When contacted by the BBC, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) would not elaborate on their original statement, issue on Saturday.

That statement said: "Police received reports of a concern for safety from a 70-year-old male at 8:50 pm [20:50 BST] 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."

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