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Video: Sinn Féin councillor Patrice Hardy being subjected to abuse at meetings says Michelle O'Neill

‘UNACCEPTABLE’: Patrice Hardy, left, and Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill speak at Stormont yesterday Picture: David Young/PA

A Sinn Féin councillor is being subjected to regular sexist and sectarian abuse by other elected representatives, the party's vice president has claimed.

Michelle O'Neill used a press conference at Stormont to highlight what she called a campaign of "abuse, discrimination, aggression and misogyny" towards Patrice Hardy.

Ms Hardy sits on the unionist-dominated Mid and East Antrim Council. She is one of two Sinn Féin representatives.

Ms O'Neill said her party colleague was being subjected to unacceptable behaviour from fellow councillors at every monthly meeting.

"She is facing, on a regular basis, at every council meeting, discrimination, disparaging comments, misogyny, sectarianism – you name it and she has received it," she said.

"That is not acceptable for any public representative who is in there, remember, on a mandate from the people.

"She will not be put off representing those people, but she certainly will not, [and] it's not acceptable for anybody, to suffer that kind of abuse on a regular basis and that's why I wanted to put it on public record today."

Ms O'Neill added: "It's totally unacceptable behaviour that any representative would go in to deal with their constituents' concerns and fight the corner of their constituents but yet every time being verbally abused, personally attacked by some parties, and I think that is totally unacceptable.

"And as political leaders we all have an obligation to ensure that there is zero tolerance of this type of behaviour.

"Other parties might not like what councillor Patrice Hardy has to say but there is no doubt she is going to continue to say it because she has a mandate to represent the people of Mid and East Antrim and she will continue to do so."

Ms Hardy stood beside Ms O'Neill at a press conference in Parliament Buildings that was ostensibly called to discuss Brexit.

"I should be clear that I can deal with the cut and thrust of politics, but what I don't find acceptable is the abuse that I am subjected to on a monthly basis when I go in to council," said Ms Hardy.

"Mid and East Antrim chamber is a very hostile environment, I don't think anybody should be subjected to the abuse that I have to be subjected to in any sort of workplace.

"Why am I being subjected to this abuse? Well, clearly it's because I am of a minority.

"But I'll still be going to council, still going to represent the people who gave me a mandate."

Mid and East Antrim council declined to comment on Ms Hardy and Ms O'Neill's claims.

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