A PRIEST in Newtownstewart was forced to flee from an intoxicated man following a “bizarre” attempted attack.
The incident is believed to have played out in the local town on Friday afternoon and footage was later posted on social media.
A video shows Fr Roland Colhoun walking past a camper van belonging to the man on the Strabane Road before being chased by the individual, who is repeatedly shouting defamatory insults in his wake.
The footage also shows the man staggering in the middle of the road whilst waving his arms in an aggravated manner and continuing to shout at the local clergyman.
At least six police officers arrived on the scene a short time later and the man was subsequently apprehended.
Local Sinn Féin representative Kieran McGuire said, “No man of the cloth should be treated in this way.”
He also revealed that prior to the altercation on Friday, it had originally been Fr Colhoun’s intention to bless the man’s campervan.
“As far as I am aware, a group of people had come to Newtownstewart for a communion on Saturday,” Cllr McGuire explained.
“The man in the video was drunk all day Friday, although he was apart from the other people.
“Fr Colhoun had on his rounds or whatever and he had been going to bless the campervan – he might have been speaking to the man earlier – and then the man took at him and Fr Colhoun had to run down the street to get away.”
He continued, “It was a very bizarre incident but it has to be condemned. No matter what your religious beliefs, no man of the cloth should have been treated in this way.”
This occurrence is the latest in a long line of anti-social incidents in Newtownstewart over the past 18 months.
However according to the Derg councillor, criminality in Newtownstewart has much diminished in recent times.
He added, “I know that police have been putting more resources into the area and community relations are a good bit better than what they were even this time last year.”
At the time of going to press, neither Fr Colhoun nor a representative from the Derry Diocese was available for comment.