A candidate in the Stormont election has told how she was assaulted by three men and threatened with more violence while out canvassing.
Hannah Kenny, of People Before Profit, said the distressing ordeal occurred last Saturday while she was delivering election material in east Belfast.
A party statement said: “This incident took place on Saturday afternoon as our party activists were out around doors promoting our election message, in an area that – like many working class communities on both sides of the sectarian divide – has suffered decades of austerity and deprivation under Stormont.
“Hannah was approached by three men who subjected her to a terrifying ordeal, both sectarian and misogynistic in nature.
“They blocked her path, gripping her by the arm and throat before detailing the violence they would subject her to if she returned to the area.
“In an election where we are standing candidates across Belfast, People Before Profit are outraged that one of our hardworking representatives has had to endure such a traumatic incident.
“Our members in east Belfast and across the city stand in solidarity with Hannah and want to make it clear that we will not be intimidated.”
Ms Kenny said: “I do not wish to dwell on the details of the incident other than to say I am deeply distressed at the level of aggression shown towards me for simply delivering election material.
“The fact that 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.
“Unfortunately there exists a minority intent on polarising this election along familiar lines; we have seen other election candidates attacked and threatened, with posters being damaged in various places.
“These aren’t just attacks on individuals like myself, they are attacks on the democratic process intended to take us backward.”
Party colleague Gerry Carroll said: “Our full support and solidarity is with Hannah after this shameful incident.
“Hannah is a hardworking and committed representative and I am deeply sorry she has had to endure such a despicable and cowardly attack.
“I am also extremely proud of Hannah’s work in putting herself forward to offer a voice for working class politics in east Belfast.
“I would call on everyone to reject this kind of thuggery and fight to consign it to the past.”
The PSNI said it had received a report on Friday of an assault in east Belfast which occurred on the evening of Saturday April 23.
The force said it was reported that a female was verbally abused and threatened by three men whilst distributing election material.
It added that the report included allegations of physical and verbal assault, including both sectarian and misogynistic comments.
Chief Inspector Mark Roberts 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.
“Inquiries are ongoing and at this time we are treating this as a hate crime.
“We are appealing to anyone who witnessed this incident or who has any dashcam or mobile footage, or any information which could assist, to contact us on 101, quoting reference number 658 of April 30.”