A FINTONA bar owner has strongly criticised the ‘heavy-handed’ actions of police when his premises were raided last weekend.
Joe Campbell, who is the licensee of The Stables Bar in the town, has accused police of ‘continual harassment’ of both him and his family.
He claims that ‘three land rovers, seven cars, two buses with dogs and riot gear’ arrived at the bar on Friday, April 30 after a ‘scurrilous complaint’.
His comments came after police said 150 people were in the premises, and that one officer was knocked unconscious and a second injured after police arrived at the bar. Mr Campbell says the incident, which has resulted in a £1,000 fine, had nothing to do with the pandemic or underage drinking.
“Police arrived heavy-handed to the premises where the atmosphere changed completely,” he said.
“We have been forced to close since last Friday evening by the PSNI. Just to clarify, Environmental Health and Omagh District Council (sic) have inspected and re-inspected our premises and have given us the all-clear to operate.
“However, we wish to make this clear: The PSNI have went to great lengths and difficulties to ensure we remain closed.
“This is not Covid-related, underage drinking-related -it is continual harassment of myself and family by the PSNI.
“Is this responsible community policing?” he asked.
“It was felt that three land rovers, seven cars, two buses with dogs and riot gear were necessary to investigate a scurrilous complaint. We will let you make up your own minds about that.”
Mr Campbell said he and his staff had been delighted to welcome customers back into their outdoor premises.
A well-known former All-Ireland winning Minor and U-21 player, he took over the bar in November 2019 and it has been extensively refurbished.
A large outside space was tidied and developed, while the lounge and pub areas were also decorated and furnished.
A 17-year-old male charged with assault on police and disorderly behaviour is expected to appear at Omagh Youth Court later this month.
The Stables Bar has been issued with a prohibition notice and will not be permitted to open again until ‘police are satisfied that the relevant breaches have been appropriately addressed’.
When contacted by the Herald, the PSNI declined to comment on the accusations made by Mr Campbell.