Northern Ireland news

West Tyrone by-election: Man 'threatens unionists with handgun' at Greencastle polling station

A 59-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of having a gun at a Co Tyrone polling station. Picture by Alan Lewis, Photopress
Brendan Hughes

A MAN was arrested yesterday on suspicion of possessing a firearm at a polling station in the West Tyrone by-election.

Police investigating the incident in Greencastle detained the 59-year-old on suspicion of possession with "intent to cause fear or alarm".

The arrest followed reports that a man with a suspected handgun attended the polling station at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School and threatened to shoot any unionists.

He spoke to staff and left without any weapon being discharged, the chief electoral officer said. No-one was injured.

Armed police were called to the scene just before 1pm, and officers arrested a man some hours later.

"He has been taken into custody for questioning. Further searches as part of the investigation are ongoing," a PSNI spokesman said.

Voters in West Tyrone went to the polls yesterday for a by-election following the resignation of former Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff.

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

He said police told him 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".

"I am shocked and appalled that something like this could happen," the councillor said.

Chief electoral officer Virginia McVea said a man "approached the poll staff in Greencastle polling station and produced what appeared to be a handgun from his pocket".

"He engaged with staff then left the polling station without any weapon being discharged," she said.

"The way that the staff dealt with it, I understand that other members of the public may have been unaware of the incident."

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