SHOPPERS at one of the largest supermarkets in Ballymena were stunned when a shock announcement came over the tannoy system: “F**k The Pope”.
A Tesco spokesperson told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “We are aware of an incident that took place at our superstore in Ballymena yesterday evening and have reported this to the police.”
The spokesperson added: “We apologise to any customers who were in the store when it happened.”
It is understood the words were shouted out by a member of the public who was able to access the tannoy announcement equipment.
One shopper, who didn’t wish to be named, told ‘Ballymena Daily’ he was in getting some groceries around 10pm on Tuesday at the Tesco store at Larne Road Link in Ballymena, and couldn’t believe what he was hearing over the tannoy.
The man said: “All of a sudden the words ‘F**k The Pope’ were shouted through the tannoy system and echoed throughout the store. I was shocked and offended that this happened. It is not the sort of thing you expect to hear when you are on your way down the biscuit aisle.
“You are more used to hearing a message maybe saying that items are reduced in price in the bakery department or something like that but not this sort of offensive message.
“Other shoppers also couldn’t believe their ears when it happened. It seems a member of the public, a male, somehow was able to access the tannoy system and shout this out.”
The shopper said he hoped Tesco would take steps to ensure the public could not access the tannoy system.
Police said it is being treated as a “hate incident”.
A PSNI spokesperson told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Police in Ballymena received a report of an incident at a shop on the Larne Link Road in Ballymena on Tuesday 13th October.
“It was reported that a male youth accessed the tannoy system at around 10.20pm on Tuesday evening and shouted a sectarian comment.
“Enquiries into the matter are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact police in Ballymena on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 643 14/10/20.”