Attack on NI election candidate latest in campaign marred by intimidation

Hannah Kenny, from People Before Profit, was ‘deeply distressed’ following the incident

An attack on a Northern Ireland Assembly election candidate during which she was grabbed by the throat and subjected to sectarian abuse is the latest incident in a campaign marred by intimidation and violence.

Hannah Kenny, from People Before Profit, was canvassing in east Belfast when three men gripped her arm and throat in a housing estate on April 23rd, according to the party.

Ms Kenny said she was “deeply distressed” at the level of aggression shown towards her for “simply delivering election material”.

“The fact these men told me I had been identified from the election campaign posters in the area before going on to assault me has been deeply disturbing,” she said in a statement.


The attackers also threatened her with violence if she returned to the area.

Almost 100 incidents linked to the election have been reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) over the past month.


They include 80 complaints of posters being attacked or removed.

Police have now confirmed they have approached political parties to “proactively” offer “briefing sessions and information for candidates on crime prevention and personal safety”.

The attack on Ms Kenny came less than a fortnight after SDLP candidate Elsie Trainor was assaulted after she gave chase to two youths who removed her election posters in south Belfast.

Sectarian abuse was hurled at Ms Trainor as she followed and filmed the individuals.

Her party colleague Paul Doherty was also threatened and told he "wasn't welcome" in a loyalist part of west Belfast.

In Portadown, a brick was thrown at the window of the UUP leader Doug Beattie's constituency office after he announced his party would not take part in anti-protocol rallies in late March.


An election poster of Beattie with a noose drawn around his neck was displayed at an anti-protocol rally over a week later.

In a statement, police said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to doing everything we can to ensure all candidates can participate fully in the forthcoming Northern Ireland Assembly election free from harassment, intimidation and other forms of criminality.

“We have contacted the political parties to proactively offer briefing sessions and information for candidates on crime prevention and personal safety, and our officers will continue to offer support and advice at a local level.”

The PSNI confirmed that between March 22nd and April 26th they received “98 reports relating to the election”.

“To date, one penalty notice for disorder [PND] and one community resolution notice [CRN] have been issued, with a further five files being submitted to the Public Prosecution Service [PPS]. There are a number of other investigations being followed up,” a spokesman added.