Belfast Telegraph

Local Election 2019

SDLP election candidate told he 'wasn't welcome' in east Belfast

SDLP candidate Seamas De Faoite said this
SDLP candidate Seamas De Faoite said this "thuggish behaviour" belongs in the past
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

An SDLP council election candidate has said he was threatened while putting up election posters in east Belfast and told he "wasn't welcome" in the area.

Belfast City Council hopeful Seamus de Faoite and a member of his election team were approached by two men while putting up the posters on the Castlereagh Road at around midnight on Saturday.

The SDLP candidate said the men began shouting and swearing at them, stating they "were not welcome" in east Belfast and telling them to leave.

Mr de Faoite said: "Neither I nor the SDLP will be intimidated out of representing the people of Lisnasharragh. This thuggish behaviour belongs in the past and will not be accepted in 2019.

"It is a threat to our democracy and does not represent the future we’re working to build together.

"For the residents in the area who have contacted me this morning to express their horror, change can’t wait - they don’t want their neighbourhood characterised by thugs or bullies."

The PSNI said they are treating the confrontation as a sectarian hate incident.

Inspector White said: “As two men were putting up election posters they were approached by two other males who swore at them and used sectarian language.

“Enquiries into this incident are ongoing.”

In the run up to May's council elections, there have been several incidents across Northern Ireland where candidates' posters have been taken down or damaged.

Posters for Mid and East Antrim Alliance candidate Noel Williams were damaged in Carrickfergus, as were those belonging to several Sinn Fein candidates in Lisburn.

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said he made a complaint to police after posts appeared on social media from users bragging about collecting Alliance, Sinn Fein and SDLP posters in the Tyrone area.

On Twitter user posted a picture of the boards saying he would use them for July bonfires.

Earlier this week, Belfast SDLP candidate Heather Wilson said she was accused of "stirring up tensions in a Protestant area" by putting her posters up in Ballysillan.

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