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Sinn Féin election workers told to 'get out' of Portadown as police investigate suspected hate crime

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has said a group of men confronted the party's election workers in Portadown on Monday. Picture by Hugh Russell

TWO Sinn Féin election workers were told to "get out" of Portadown while putting up posters, the party has claimed.

MLA John O'Dowd, the party's Westminster election candidate for the Co Armagh constituency Upper Bann, described the incident as intimidation and said it was "completely unacceptable and an attack on the democratic process".

Police have said they are treating the incident, which happened on Monday night, as a hate crime and have appealed for information.

A police spokesman said: "It was reported that at around 9pm a number of workers were erecting election posters on Mandeville Street when the male driver of a Ford Kuga car stopped beside them and shouted sectarian abuse at them before driving away."

However Mr O'Dowd said: "The two workers were confronted by a group of men in Portadown and told to 'get out of town'. They were shaken by the incident and left the area having to return later for one of their cars.

"I am calling on all those involved in the election in Upper Bann to come out and stand squarely with Sinn Féin and those who were intimidated and condemn what happened in the strongest possible way."

He added: "These is a clear onus on unionist politicians to show leadership in this situation and condemn those behind this intimidation and call for it to end."

UUP Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie tweeted: "Let me be clear this is wrong and must be condemned."

Prior to the 2016 Assembly election, two Sinn Féin election billboards in Portadown were defaced with paint bombs.

Police have appealed to anyone with information to contact officers on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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