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Election hopefuls face barrage of threats

Thursday, 23 February 2017

TWO of the candidates standing in next week's NI Assembly election have said they will not be 'bullied or intimidated' after they faced a barrage of threats within the past number of days.

Outgoing SDLP MLA., Daniel McCrossan, has revealed he has been the subject of an ongoing campaign of abuse on social media - including during a period of bereavement when his 75-year-old grandfather recently passed away.

Independent Assembly election candidate, Susan Anne White, has been subjected to a number of 'sinister' death threats on Facebook, which she said has made her concerned for her safety.

The controversial figure, who hails from Newtownabbey but currently lives in Trillick, has described herself in the past as being 'biblically correct, not politically correct' - a reference to her stance on a plethora of moral issues including calls to recriminalise homosexuality, making adultery a criminal offence and forbidding gay people to donate blood.

This latest incident follows comments she made which were reacted to on the social media outlet. One comment described her to another she had tagged as 'your next target' to which he replied 'assassination'.

Mrs White indicated this wasn't the first 'death threat' she had received but hadn't made up her mind on whether to go to the police about it. She added that even if it was meant as a joke she didn't accept that as an excuse for making such a comment.

"It made me wonder about my safety as we go around canvassing. We may well go to the police, but may well just leave it. We just haven't made our minds up yet. Even if the individuals concerned said it was just black humour, just a joke, I don't accept that, I don't think death threats are ever a joke," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr McCrossan was revealed that he and his team were subjected to several incidents in the Castlederg and Omagh areas while on the campaign trail last week. He admitted he also has had concerns for his own personal safety being a member of the Policing Board but had decided enough was enough as the abuse he received during the time his late grandfather died was just too much.

 

'Abuse'

"I was getting all sorts of abuse on social media during the time of my grandfather's wake. I've been getting letters, the car has been followed and photos have been taken. My late grandfather was like a father figure to me and his death came as a huge shock, I was off for about a week, I couldn't focus but the abuse continued on both Facebook and Twitter. If it's not that it's the car or the posters and that can prove a significant cost by itself.

"I've been called a scumbag and told there were ways of dealing with boys like me," he said

He pointed out that for the most part the current campaign has been positive and people were willing to engage when given the opportunity.

"Clearly the problem comes when I'm holding others to account and that's not going down too well. I will not be bullied or intimidated out of any area, neither will my canvassers, activists or supporters - we've had enough of this abuse," he said.

"I personally received threats in Omagh and a local female canvasser was also verbally abused in Castlederg. It seems some are rattled by my work ethic in the past year and efforts to do something positive for the people of West Tyrone," he said.

"Those responsible have little regard for democracy. We will not be bullied, intimidated or pushed out of any area by any party. We have a job to do and will continue doing it," he said.

Looking forward to the last week of campaigning Mr McCrossan said neither he nor his team would be put off knocking on every door between now and election day.

"People are beginning to realise that I go to all doors because there are more issues that unite us such as housing, education, the health service and roads. I want to be a strong voice for everyone in West Tyrone - no matter who they are. People need to know that if the two parties that were in government are returned we're going to end up with Theresa May and Direct Rule and the consequences of it and for Brexit along the border," he said.

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