Northern Ireland news

West Tyrone by-election: Arrest after man 'threatens unionists with handgun' at Greencastle polling station

Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Greencastle
Brendan Hughes

A man has been arrested after police were called to a polling station in the West Tyrone by-election following reports a man had "threatened unionists" with a suspected handgun.

The incident happened this afternoon at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Greencastle.

No weapon was discharged and no-one was injured, the chief electoral officer said.

A 59-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear or alarm. He has been taken into custody for questioning.

Chris Smyth, UUP candidate in the Westminster vote, had arrived at the polling station shortly after the incident and spoke to police.

"I have been informed by the police that a man walked into the Greencastle polling station with what appeared to be a handgun and said to those present that if any unionists were around, he would shoot them," he said.

"I am shocked and appalled that something like this could happen."

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Mr Smyth said the man had left before police arrived at the scene, and staff were left shaken by the incident.

"I am informed there were no police present at the time. I arrived just 10 minutes later and there is now a strong, armed police presence at the scene," he said.

"It is sad that we continue to have people in our society who want to terrorise and intimidate you just because of your political opinion.

"These people need removed from society. I for one will not be intimidated by them."

Virginia McVea, chief electoral officer, said: "I can confirm there was an incident, which appeared was with a handgun, in Greencastle.

"There was no weapon discharged and there were no injuries.

"I am trying to get to the bottom of it now. I'm liaising with police."

Police said they are working to locate the man involved and enquiries are continuing.

It is understood police are following a definite line of enquiry.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: Police in Omagh received a report of a man acting suspiciously at a polling station on the Crockanboy Road, Greencastle just before 1pm.

"It was reported that the man may have been carrying a firearm.

"Efforts are continuing to locate him and enquiries into the matter are ongoing."

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