UUP West Tyrone candidate to report online ‘death threat’

Chris Smyth said he would not be driven out or cowed by social media trolls
Chris Smyth said he would not be driven out or cowed by social media trolls

The Ulster Unionist candidate in the forthcoming West Tyrone by-election has said he plans to report an online “death threat” to the PSNI.

Chris Smyth, a councillor in the Fermanagh and Omagh District, was branded an “English Smythie invader” on social media website Twitter.

He was told he is “lucky to be alive” and “should already be dead” in a message seen by the News Letter.

Mr Smyth said: “I think that really epitomises why political representation is so important.

“I will not be driven out of here. This is my home. I have every right to live here. I was born here and I will certainly not be driven out or cowed by trolls on social media.”

He added: “I’m going to be sending it to police. I’m interpreting that as a death threat, or at the very least incitement to violence.”

The by-election was called following the resignation of the sitting MP Barry McElduff.

The Sinn Fein representative resigned in January after apologising for posting a video of himself on social media posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread balanced on his head. The video was posted on the anniversary of the 1976 Kingsmills massacre, in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead.

Both Mr Smyth and the other unionist standing in the election, DUP candidate Thomas Buchanan, have said their campaigns have gone well so far.

Mr Buchanan said: “We have knocked on thousands of doors and we’ve been getting an excellent response. A lot of people are telling us that they will be voting for us for the first time, so it is very encouraging.”

Mr Smyth said: “Even though it’s a Westminster election, a lot of concerns seem to be Stormont based. People seem to be genuinely dissatisfied with what is going on.”

The other candidates in the election, which will be held on Thursday, are Sinn Fein’s Órfhlaith Begley, Alliance’s Stephen Donnelly, and the SDLP’s Daniel McCrossan.