Belfast Telegraph

SDLP MLA McCrossan says staff member left 'badly shaken' after office abuse

By Michael Sheils McNamee

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan has described an incident at his Omagh office in which a member of staff was verbally abused.

Mr McCrossan said that the person in question was left "badly shaken" after a member of the public banged on the door of the office and shouted abuse at her. 

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the West Tyrone MLA said that his office worker noticed a woman pulling up outside playing loud music from her car and recognised her as someone who had come into the office shouting abuse previously.

The woman got out of her car and made her way to enter the office, which has an inner and outer door at its entrence.

The office worker was able to prevent woman from making it through the inner door and into the main office.

"For about 20 minutes she took abuse which she felt was intimidating, very threatening and borderline violent," Mr McCrossan said.

"I don’t want any member of my staff to be exposed to any aggressive behaviour from the members of the public. Things have happened in the past but this year has been quite bad. There is no motive behind it and no particular issue that people are acting out about."

He explained that staff experienced incidents of aggression on a monthly basis, with the perpetrators often contacting the office by telephone.

On one occasion the windows at his constituency office in Strabane were smashed.

"We take these incidents extremely seriously and will not tolerate any abuse or threatening behaviour towards any member our staff," said Mr McCrossan.

He added that while politicians receive regular abuse - including through social media - the current political climate makes it a "dangerous moment" for elected representatives and their staff.

Mr McCrossan will be holding a meeting this afternoon (July 18) with staff to discuss additional security, although emphasised that ensuring accessibility for members of the public is still a priority.

The PSNI confirmed that at around 11.50am on Monday July 17 police received a report of a woman causing annoyance at a premise in the John Street area of Omagh.

Enquiries into the incident are ongoing.

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