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Strabane bites back after residents described as skint vodka-swilling gamblers on 192.com

By Donna Deeney

People in Strabane have spoken of their fury at being branded vodka-guzzling gamblers who smoke too much and don't read enough.

London-based online directory 192.com's far from complimentary portrayal of the Co Tyrone town also included the phrases "housing is of poor quality and in bad repair", "residents are likely to be heavy to medium readers of the popular tabloid press" and "much less inclined to read books than other consumers".

The stinging comments also reckoned "residents to be heavily reliant on own brand foods, choosing instead to spend their money on alcohol, and in particular spirits".

The description, not surprisingly, has been refuted and the author challenged to come and see what the people of the town are really like.

Anthony McPhilemy was furious, saying: "They were short-sighted. Whoever wrote that doesn't know the Strabane people because the Strabane people are nothing like how they have portrayed us.

"Who has the right to write that kind of rubbish? This is the friendliest town in Ireland.

"They would need to apologise to the people of Strabane for that diatribe."

Paul Doherty was hard at work but took the time to voice his thoughts on the matter.

He said: "That was a pretty horrific description of Strabane and not fair at all.

"It wasn't even accurate, if they took the time to come here, they would see we are hard working, fine, upstanding members of society."

Jo Perry was just as enraged. She said: "I don't want to say where I work but it is in a public service and we have people coming in all the time including tourists.

"American and Canadian visitors are always saying how friendly and helpful we are so the whole notion that we are a bunch of vodka-swilling scroungers from hell is not reflective of the town I know.

"It strikes me that the person who wrote that looked up a brief summary of the economic situation of Strabane and came to the conclusion that it was the worst of England type of situation."

Tina Connolly thought that the description in 192.com could have been applied to any town anywhere.

She said: "Strabane is no worse that anywhere else.

"I can't understand why anyone would single out Strabane for that kind of harshness, the people are friendly. Anyone taking a walk around this town will see we are not all swilling vodka and gambling.

"People here go out at the weekend but sure people go out at the weekend in every other town and city.

"I can't understand why they didn't tell the truth.

"People in this town have had it hard but they just get on with it and make the most of it."

Another local man, Maurice Hamilton, thought an apology was due.

He said: "They got it badly wrong, it was a completely false depiction of Strabane.

"The people of Strabane spend their time looking about work but they seem to get the hard knocks all the time.

"I was really angry when I read that and it's not the first time people have sunk the boot into Strabane.

"To come out with that statement about vodka was just below the belt written by an outsider.

"If they had anything in them they should come here and say sorry but I don't fancy their chances if they did show up."

The only person less than flustered about what was written on 192.com was Donna Kelly.

She said: "That's their opinion but the reality isn't like that but it doesn't bother me what anyone said.

"I know the people in Strabane are not like that, I love Strabane, it's my home town and it's good enough for me."

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