Fury as Northern Ireland town residents described as skint vodka-swilling gamblers by online directory 192.com
Award-winning online directory has described the residents of one Northern Ireland town as a bunch of skint vodka-swilling gamblers.
The shocking portrayal of life in Strabane, Co Tyrone , has been published on 192.com, an online version of directory enquiries.
Using statistics provided by demographic profiling company CAMEO UK, the directory claims that much of Strabane's housing is of a "poor quality" while its residents have little or no access to the internet.
They are also likely to be readers of tabloid news who spend their money on heavy spirits, gambling and smoking, it says.
In its findings, the website tells its clients: "Much of the housing is of poor quality and in bad repair. The residents of these areas are likely to be heavy to medium readers of the popular tabloid press.
"They are much less inclined to read books than other consumers, but are light readers of general and women's magazines."
192.com also reckons residents to be heavily reliant on own brand foods, choosing instead to spend their money on alcohol, and in particular spirits.
"In terms of their shopping patterns, budget shops and brands feature significantly, especially with regard to groceries and clothing. They are also 1.3 times more likely to be heavy spirit buyers than the UK average. We also see this group being almost 80% more likely to be smokers."
In a further slur, the London-based company suggests Strabane people "are also predisposed to playing bingo and the National Lottery as well as gambling and betting. Unlike many of the more affluent categories, sports, fitness and cultural activities have a considerably smaller part to play in their lives."
According to 192.com, car ownership is also "extremely low" in Strabane, with householders more likely to depend on public transport.
"Of those that have gardens, very few have the money or the inclination to invest in them. However, they are more likely to be interested in DIY, which in many cases is mostly out of necessity rather than enjoyment."
West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle said she was stunned by the remarks and called on the company to delete the profile.
"Such broad brush generalisations and negative stereotyping of the people of Strabane is completely irresponsible and unacceptable, particularly when broadcast online for anyone to see," the MLA said.
CAMEO UK, the company that provided the statistics on which the comments were based, apologised for the descriptions and said it has spoken with 192.com about the matter.