Northern Ireland

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst deletes Twitter account due to 'abuse and harassment'

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst has deleted his Twitter account due to "abuse and harassment"
DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst has deleted his Twitter account due to "abuse and harassment"

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst has said he has deleted his Twitter account due to "the amount of abuse and harassment" directed at him and his family.

The north Belfast representative's profile on the social media site was removed in recent weeks.

Last month, Mr Pankhurst faced questions about his contact with a housing association after sectarian attacks on homes in Tyndale Gardens in the mainly unionist Ballysillan area.

A young Catholic mother abandoned plans to move into one of the properties after its windows were smashed and 'KAT' (kill all taigs) was scrawled on a wall.

It emerged Mr Pankhurst had earlier told Choice Housing a "concern" had been raised about the mother-of-four moving in.

An assessment was sought from police who confirmed they were unaware of any threats against the woman, but her house was attacked shortly before she was due to move in.

There is no suggestion Mr Pankhurst had advance knowledge of the intimidation.

In a statement, he said he wanted to raise the matter "in confidence" and, as a public representative, had a "duty of care to all residents when I receive any form of information that may indicate danger to life or property".

Mr Pankhurst later faced criticism when Facebook posts from November emerged in which he commented on new housing for the Glenbryn area.

He wrote: "We have made it clear that locals should be served first. Our areas cannot become dumping grounds for all sorts."

Amid the controversy, Mr Pankhurst made his Twitter and Facebook accounts private shortly after posting that he had since been receiving anonymous calls and threats.

The Oldpark representative was an outspoken voice for the DUP on Twitter, but his account has now been deleted. He remains active on Facebook.

He said last night: "I have come off because I'm sick, sore and tired of the amount of abuse and harassment I've been getting on an almost hourly basis when I was on that wasn't just directed at me but also my young family."

DUP MP Carla Lockhart and party leader Arlene Foster have previously spoken out about personal online abuse, with Ms Lockhart pledging to tackle cyber bullying.