Northern Ireland news

Carla Lockhart speaks out against bullying and harassment on Twitter of women in political life

 The Upper Bann MLA was at a DUP event on Friday where she had a photograph taken with the party leader Arlene Foster.

Politicians have rallied behind DUP MLA Carla Lockhart who has called for more controls on social media after receiving "very personal" abuse on Twitter.

"This is bullying. It's harassment of women in political life," she told the BBC. 

The Upper Bann MLA was at a DUP event on Friday where she had a photograph taken with the party leader Arlene Foster.

"At the dinner, Arlene posted a picture of the two of us," said Ms Lockhart.

"There were a lot of very positive responses to the tweet but there were also a number of very abusive messages."

"I am more than open to people debating about political beliefs and policy but these were very personal. We all have features that we would maybe change.

"We all look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning and maybe think if we looked slightly different, it would be wonderful, but it doesn't give anyone the right to pass comment on them."

She added that female politicians in other parties have also been targeted and the abuse needs to stop.

She said: "We need to get our police and our social media outlets working together to tackle this and to bring people to task for what they're doing," she said.

In February Allicance Party leader Naomi Long hit out at "misogynistic bullying" of female politicians on Twitter.

The East Belfast MLA said she had experienced numerous remarks over the past week and accused the social media platform of failing to act.

She tweeted: "The abuse I have witnessed here of women in politics, from every party, over their appearance is misogynistic bullying designed to silence women's voices.

"It will not work. We are stronger.

"Twitter has policies on targeted harassment on protected grounds but will not act. Why?"

Ms Lockhart's was praised for speaking out by Ms Long and Sinn Féin's leader Michelle O'Neill.

Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd described the online abuse suffered by constituency colleague Carla Lockhart as wrong and inexcusable. 

The MLA said: "I disagree with many aspects of Carla's politics but there is no excuse for the online personal abuse she has suffered. 

"The online bullying of Carla and other public representatives particularly women by online trolls must end."  

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Northern Ireland news

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: