Northern Ireland news

Twitter account used to target Diane Dodds 'no longer exists'

Nigel and Diane Dodds with son Andrew who died in 1998

THE anonymous Twitter account used to send an abusive message to former economy minister Diane Dodds has been removed.

There was an outcry over the post which was written in response to the DUP assembly member wishing her followers new year's greetings.

It referenced her son, Andrew, who was born with spina bifida, and died just before his ninth birthday in 1998.

As of this morning, the Twitter account - which used a picture of Prince Andrew and made posts under the name Paul - 'no longer exists'.

It is unclear whether the social media giant removed the account or it was taken down by the user themselves.

Police confirmed on Saturday it had received reports about the message.

Many Twitter users also said they had contacted the organisation to report the tweet and claimed they had been told it didn't breach their standards.

Mrs Dodds confirmed she spoke to the PSNI about the tweet.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson accused Twitter of failing to act and described the abuse as a "hate crime".

He said that there is a “real need to call time on the ‘wild west’ online where a small number of people believe they can say or do what they like without consequence”.

"Despite the launch of a police investigation and universal condemnation, it seems Twitter is unwilling to take the action necessary against those who are fuelled by hatred," Mr Donaldson said on Sunday.

"Twitter must explain why they view these vile and depraved tweets as acceptable."

Alliance leader Naomi Long described it as a vile comment from a sick individual desperately craving attention.

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Northern Ireland news