Belfast Telegraph

Strabane brawl sparks call for increased PSNI presence

By Leona O'Neill

There are calls for increased police patrols in Strabane after an early-evening brawl - which spilled out from a bar onto a main thoroughfare - shut down the town centre for a time.

Business owners pulled down their shutters and several pubs closed their doors after a group of men, some shirtless, stopped traffic and fought in the middle of the road at Abercorn Square in the town on Monday evening.

In video footage shared on social media, two shirtless men were shown bare-knuckle boxing in the middle of the road, while a group of men gathered around them arguing, pushing and shoving one another.

When a police officer arrived on the scene and attempted to calm the situation, he was pushed, it was claimed.

Local business owner, Anoop Guram, who runs Masala Restaurant and the Blue Parrot bar, said the incident was "a rerun of a weekend of madness" this time last year, which saw running battles in the street, damage to property and businesses closing up after disturbances following a local man's funeral.

"Last year, the town centre was practically on lock down," he said.

"And here we have this situation again, with men out fighting in the street in broad daylight, causing mayhem and major traffic jams in the town.

"I had to pull down the shutters on my takeaway and many of the bars in the town closed their doors because they were fearful of what might happen.

"This time last year, I lost 65% of my trade over that weekend because people were afraid to come into the town.

"On Monday night, I had a few people cancel tables also because they heard of what happened. I think police need to have a more visible presence in the town centre. When this fight broke out, one police officer went to break it up and was shoved about. There needs to be a more robust response from police, a few Land Rovers and a police camera perhaps."

The Vintners Association of Strabane is meeting with the PSNI tomorrow to discuss the issue. A PSNI spokesperson said: "Police attended a disturbance on Main Street in Strabane on Monday at 7.15pm. When police arrived, a crowd dispersed. There were no assaults or injuries reported."

Belfast Telegraph

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