SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat has revealed that among those who contacted the SDLP in Limavady after the recent attack on its office was Rev David Armstrong.
He fled the town with his wife and four children in 1985 after bringing Christmas greetings across the road from the Presbyterian Church to the congregation attending Mass in the Church of Christ the King.
Mr Dallat, who spoke at length with Rev Armstrong, said: “This call was particularly welcome because David Armstrong still bears the scars of those dreadful events 27 years ago when he did nothing more than bring the message of Christmas to the congregation attending Mass in the Church of Christ the King who gave him a standing ovation.
“Today, I would like to believe that the bitterness that David Armstrong and his family experienced won’t ever happen again, but recent events are a timely reminder that we must continue to work and pray for tolerance and better understanding between people with different viewpoints.
“Limavady is a good town and its people are among the best, but it only takes a small faction to tarnish a society in bad light. One person who attended the protest outside the council offices called with us on Saturday to distance himself from what happened and I sincerely hope that others will reflect on who they have been mixing with.
“As a result of what has happened over the last two weeks Stormont has been dubbed ‘An assembly of controlled sectarianism’ and that worries us in the SDLP. The Assembly was never intended to manage sectarianism but end it by creating a new society in which difference would be cherished and partnership would flourish at every level of government central and local.
“That has not happened because the DUP and Sinn Fein want control and are not prepared to embrace a policy of cohesion, sharing and integration which would truly make Northern Ireland a model of excellence.”