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Green Party's Steven Agnew closes Twitter account due to 'trolling and abuse'

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said Twitter "can be a very negative space"
Brendan Hughes

GREEN Party leader Steven Agnew says he has closed his Twitter account because of abuse from faceless online trolls.

The North Down MLA, who has used the online platform for more than nine years, said it "can be a very negative space".

Mr Agnew said he found himself "disengaging" from Twitter to avoid the "general noise of negativity every time I post something".

He deactivated his Twitter account on Sunday, and said he is "reviewing" whether to return to it in future.

"It can be a very negative space. The majority of the stuff coming to me wasn't people looking help or support or asking legitimate questions," he said.

"It was people who hide behind profiles which are not their real names or pictures and just use it to troll and abuse."

It comes after DUP MLA Carla Lockhart last month called for more controls on Twitter following "very personal" abuse against her and party leader Arlene Foster when she posted a photo of them at a DUP event.

Mr Agnew said the level of abuse he has received was not as severe as others, especially relative to many women on the platform.

"It's hard to think of anything specific. It's just that general noise of negativity every time I post something," he said.

He said he has "no problem engaging with people who disagree" with him, but added: "It came to a point where I wasn't posting things to not have to deal with what comes."

Meanwhile, Mr Agnew said the Green Party would likely delay choosing a new deputy leader until its annual general meeting in the autumn.

The current deputy leader Tanya Jones announced at the party's annual conference earlier this month that she was stepping down to study environmental law at the University of Dundee.

She had been elected last October to replace South Belfast MLA Claire Bailey, who decided to step aside after three years in the role.

Mr Agnew said he was "not at all" concerned that the party is moving to its third deputy leader in the space of a year.

He said Ms Jones has been "very committed to her role" and her decision was a matter of "personal circumstances".

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