Northern Ireland

SDLP's Daniel McCrossan 'to review office security' after threats

Daniel McCrossan
Image caption Daniel McCrossan said his team will meet on Tuesday evening to discuss how to change security measures at his constituency offices

An SDLP MLA has said he will have to review security at his constituency offices after one of his staff was threatened by a member of the public.

Daniel McCrossan, who represents West Tyrone, said the incident happened at his office in Omagh on Monday morning.

He said a woman entered began "shouting and hurling offensive" abuse about him at the worker, who was on her own.

He added unrelated abusive incidents have been happening at his offices on almost a monthly basis for a year.

Windows smashed

The police said inquiries into Monday's incident are ongoing.

Mr McCrossan told BBC News NI his member of staff had been left frightened and shaken by the woman, who he said "kept shouting and roaring, slagging off me, SDLP representatives and the party generally".

He claims the incident lasted for up to 20 minutes before his staff member was able to get the woman to leave.

The MLA revealed they had been the target of a spate of abusive incidents over the past 12 months, but said he does not believe there is a specific motive behind them.

He said windows at his offices in Omagh and Strabane have previously been smashed, staff have received abusive phone calls and people have come into the offices to confront staff directly.

"There is no reason in particular, there are a number of elected representatives and offices from an array of parties who get this," said Mr McCrossan.

"Largely, most of us have stayed quiet, but we've had enough.

"I accept public representatives are going to face some level of aggression, but when people come to abuse a member of my staff it's entirely unacceptable."

The SDLP MLA is due to meet with his team on Tuesday evening to discuss reviewing security measures at constituency offices.


"My offices in Omagh and Strabane are very accessible, but if this continues we are going to have to look at putting security buzzer systems on doors," he added.

Mr McCrossan said, however, that because of budget constraints on office expenditure, he will have to consider raising money in order to ensure that staff are protected.

Image caption Lord Bew has warned that the level of vitriol received by politicians is such that it could deter people from running for office

Last week, the head of the standards watchdog said British politics was at a "dangerous moment", with the level of personal abuse aimed at politicians and candidates reaching a "tipping point".

It followed a move by the government announcing an inquiry into intimidation received by MPs.

Mr McCrossan said he wanted to see a conversation taking place about abuse and threats received by representatives in the UK's devolved assemblies as well.

"There needs to be some consideration given to all elected representatives, and constituency staff on the frontline who are always in the office even when MLAs and MPs aren't," he said.

"It's time MLAs and elected representatives spoke out against this, it shouldn't be happening no matter who they are."

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