STRABANE MLA Daniel McCrossan has called for an end to acts of intimidation and abuse of West Tyrone election candidates and their campaign teams.
It comes after an SDLP activist was accosted while erecting posters in Omagh during the early hours of Sunday morning. The man, who is aged in his 50s, had been in the Campsie Road area of the town at around 2.50am when he was approached by three males in their 20s.
After hurling abuse at the man and shaking his ladder while he stood near the top, the man’s ladder was then thrown into the Drumragh River.
It’s understood that as well as using abusive language, the men chanted the names of loyalist paramilitary groupings.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed, “A suspect was identified by police and has been cautioned for criminal damage.”
Although the man was left shaken by the incident, Daniel McCrossan said the SDLP activist remained undeterred and
was back erecting posters on Monday.
Contesting his fifth election since 2015, the SDLP candidate said his campaign team have faced similar incidents in all five contests.
“It has just been continuous, no party should have to suffer that. I think the current political climate has made it worse, certainly it has flared attitudes and tensions.”
Labelling the Sunday morning incident as “ridiculous”, he said, “It was complete ignorance, bigotry and sectarianism on behalf of those individuals. Why on earth would you attack some man in his 50s and do that, except that you are blinded by complete hatred?”
The SDLP candidate said he wants to try and locate the three men responsible to have a conversation.
“I think we need to face these things down and ask them outright if they really thought that was justified, because they could have really hurt the man.”
Describing the weekend incident as “despicable”, Sinn Féin candidate Órfhlaith Begley confirmed that some of her election posters had been defaced over the weekend.
“Those behind these incidents should realise they will not succeed in deterring any of us who put ourselves before the electorate,” she said.