By Jonathan McCambridge (PA)
Police have described graffiti targeting an SDLP MLA in Co Londonderry as “unacceptable” and said they are investigating.
Mark H Durkan said that he believes he was targeted after confronting a group of youths after windows were smashed on a bus in Strathfoyle.
The PSNI has confirmed they are investigating a number of incidents in the area, including criminal damage to property and vehicles.
A spokesperson said on Saturday evening at around 8.10pm a bus that had broken down at the junction of Clonmeen Drive and Temple Road had a window smashed.
Earlier, just before 8pm, police received reports of antisocial behaviour in Deramore Drive where a door was ripped off a derelict property.
Shortly before 10pm on Sunday it was reported graffiti had been daubed on a bus shelter in Clonmeen Drive and on a nearby defibrillator unit.
Chief Inspector Yvonne McManus said: “These are all serious incidents which are having a distressing impact on local residents in Strathfoyle.
“We have been speaking with local residents in Strathfoyle, and we know this activity is not welcomed in the area, nor is it representative of those living in the community.
“We will continue with a visible presence in the area with our neighbourhood policing team officers on patrol and we will robustly investigate reports made to us, or that come to our attention.
“The actions of those involved could result in someone being seriously injured. It has to stop.”
She added: “Some of this recent activity has been directed at a local political representative.
“It is unacceptable when those involved in our political process become the subject of abuse or threats.
“This will be thoroughly investigated and we will explore all lines of inquiry.
“The police service remains committed to doing everything we can to ensure our elected representatives can live and work free from harassment, intimidation or any other form of criminality.
In a Facebook post, Mr Durkan posted a photograph of graffiti on a bus shelter which read “Mark Durkan will be got” alongside an image of a crosshair.
He said: “I strongly suspect this to be the handiwork of a group of young people in the area who I confronted last night after a Translink bus had three windows shattered in the estate.
“The same group have been responsible for a litany of destruction and intimidation for well over a year. They have the community terrorised.
“Valiant efforts have been made by various agencies and local groups to tackle this issue and, other than the odd, isolated improvement, the situation is probably worse now than ever as the kids have got bigger and bolder.”
He said it was the seventh time in just over a year that a bus in the area had windows smashed.
Mr Durkan added: “Last week, I’d my windscreen cracked in an indiscriminate attack – it could have been anyone driving along.
“I’d say it would be a conservative enough estimate to say the cost to the public purse of this wave of destruction has been hundreds of thousands of pounds, never mind the cost to private citizens of repairing their property.
“What can’t be measured is the damage it has done to people – the fear and anxiety caused to many vulnerable people and families.
“This has to stop now. The community has to stand together and say: ‘Enough is enough.'”