A woman whose sister was badly injured when their bus came under attack in Dungiven as they travelled home from the Apprentice Boys parade said “we don’t blame the people of Dungiven”.
Sandra Major, aged 61, from Belfast lost five teeth and needed 30 stitches after she was hit by a rock as the bus she was in travelled through Dungiven on its way back from Derry.
Sandra’s sister, Margaret Ritchie said her sister is in bad shape.
“I don’t think it has hit her yet, to be honest. I don’t think she has had time to reflect on what happened. She can’t even talk,” Margaret told the ‘Journal’.
Margaret explained what happened.
“We were all sitting on the bus chatting. There were no flags, no chanting, no singing and all of a sudden when I heard this almighty bang. I got hit and I was covered in glass and blood and, when I looked around, Sandra was slumped over the seat, covered in blood. There was a lot of blood,” said Margaret.
Margaret said it was the first time in 15 years she had witnessed trouble on the return route from Derry to Belfast.
“That was the first time in 15 years. and you can’t blame the people of Dungiven,” said Margaret. “We certainly aren’t. It was one time out of 15, and it wouldn’t put me off going back that way. We’ve been messaged by random people from Dungiven offering suport.”
PSNI Superintendent John Magill, the Causeway Coast and Glens District Commander, said: “Local police were deployed in Dungiven on Saturday and responded quickly to the attack on the bus. This was a quite despicable incident and we are investigating it as a sectarian hate crime. A youth was arrested and has been bailed pending further enquiry.”
There has been widespread condemnation of the attack from local representatives.
Parish Priest Fr. Aidan Mullan said the attack was “evil” and “was not representative of the good people of Dungiven”.
“I was getting ready for mass when it happened and people at the church were shocked and annoyed and tearful. What annoys me about this, and what is shocking about this, is that you don’t be standing at the roadside with stones in your pocket, or bricks in your hand. It is evil. It is wrong and the good people of Dungiven are standing up to deny it and say ‘we don’t want to have any act, hand or part in behaviour such as nasty and bigoted as that’. This is not representative of the good people of Dungiven and I am annoyed, disappointed and shamed.”
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