POLICE have said they are treating an incident at a Trillick takeaway in the early hours of Monday as a hate crime.
Damage was caused to a hatch door and window when three men entered the ‘Big Bite Fish & Chips’ premises on the village’s Main Street at around 1am.
The three men harassed the two male members of staff, who are understood to be of Indian descent, leaving the employees unable to leave the premises at closing time.
One member of staff who spoke to the Ulster Herald, said the takeaway normally closes at 1am. But he said the intimidatory actions of the three men left the two staff members unable to leave, forcing them to contact the PSNI at around 2.25am.
“They broke our window and they harassed the guys who were working here,” he said.
“When they left they broke all the flower pots outside the houses, they put curry chips in letter boxes and they opened up bins and threw the rubbish everywhere.”
On Tuesday police said their enquiries into the disturbance were continuing but confirmed they were treating the incident as a hate crime.
Local Sinn Féin shadow councillor Stephen McCann has condemned the actions of those responsible.
“People should be able to go to their place of work without fear of violence or intimidation,” he said.
Cllr McCann, who spoke with some of the staff, said they had felt intimidated during the incident.
Calling for respect to be shown for local staff and businesses he said, “Thankfully this is not something that happens often. Whenever people are out and about, they need to cop on and take into consideration the people that live there, their property and show respect,” added the councillor.
Fellow West Tyrone councillor Mary Garrity suggested that the weekend ‘Rockin’ with the Reds’ festival had brought crowds from outside the area into Trillick on Sunday night.
The SDLP representative said the staff at the ‘Big Bite’ had integrated well since they moved into the area.
“There is no excuse irrespective of who it is and where they are from. I would think it is an isolated incident, because they are here a long time, but if there was any hate or malice intended, it’s something I wouldn’t condone at any time.”
The PSNI have appealed for anyone with information relating to the disturbance to contact them on the new non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 137250814. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.