A paediatric nurse at Daisy Hill Hospital has said she “could have been killed” after her car was torched outside her home.
In an incident which police are treating as a hate crime, Sharon Loughran told of how she woke to the smell of smoke and the sight of her car in flames.
The incident happened in the Damolly Village area and, for the victim, it is not the first time she has been targeted.
Mrs Loughran, a representative of Aontú, had graffiti daubed on her home during the recent council elections.
But she has described the “terrifying situation” which occurred during the early hours of this morning (Wednesday), as a “radical escalation”.
“I am still trying to process what happened,” said Mrs Loughran.
“Just after 3am I awoke to the smell and sound of an inferno beside my house. I looked out the window to see my car parked in my driveway consumed by flames. The heat was so much that the fascia, pipes, electrics and widows to my house have all been damaged by melting.
“My house is significantly damaged. I don’t have electricity and can’t use the water.
“This was a horrendous action that very easily could have set my house on fire also. The arsonist that set this fire could have killed me. That this would happen to anyone in 2023 is incredible.
“I cannot for the life of me understand why they are targeting me. I had no involvement in politics before joining Aontú. I am a paediatric nurse in Daisy Hill Hospital. I love my job and I am delighted to work for both communities.
“The only reason I got involved in politics was to stop the closure of key services in Daisy Hill Hospital and Aontú are very active on hospital campaigns around the country.
“I also can’t understand why they would target Aontú. Aontú is only four years old. We have no history or baggage from the past at all.
“Indeed, we have many Catholic and Protestant members. My house was also daubed with sectarian UDA graffiti during the local elections but this is a radical escalation of that intimidation.
“I am calling on the PSNI to provide the necessary protection that people like me can go about our lives without living in fear.
“I am also calling on community leaders in Newry to bring about what influence to stop this shocking violence on the 12th of July. I want to continue to work for my community. I have a human right to do so in peace.”