Ireland

Social media ‘a dark place’, says McEntee as politicians urged to report threats

Gardai were reportedly examining threats to ministers after mocked-up videos of Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar emerged online (Brian Lawless/PA)
Gardai were reportedly examining threats to ministers after mocked-up videos of Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar emerged online (Brian Lawless/PA) Gardai were reportedly examining threats to ministers after mocked-up videos of Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar emerged online (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Justice Minister has warned that social media is a “dark place” at times, as elected politicians have been urged to report incidents of harassment to gardai.

Helen McEntee also urged people to understand the impacts of what they said on social media.

The Irish Daily Mail reported on Monday that gardai were examining threats to ministers after mocked-up videos of Ms McEntee and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar emerged online.

It comes after a demonstration was held at Leinster House to mark the return of the Dail, which saw entrances blocked and included a mock gallows featuring both government ministers and opposition TDs.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar A mocked-up video of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has reportedly emerged online (Brian Lawless/PA)

Asked about the Mail’s story, Ms McEntee said: “I’m not going to comment on something that is being looked at at the moment, but social media can be a dark place at times, and I suppose it’s important that people realise what they say and do on social media does have an impact in the same way as if they were to say and do it in person.”

Tanaiste Micheal Martin said in the aftermath of the protest – which was criticised across the political spectrum – that the vitriol towards politicians was “getting more dangerous”, and that the behaviour of some people was “fascist-like”.

Some politicians have voiced concerns that recent events could escalate to a “Jo Cox moment”, referring to the UK MP murdered in 2016.

An Garda Siochana said in a statement that it was aware of content circulating online, but did “not comment on such content or unverified material posted on online platforms or messaging apps by third parties”.

It also said it did not comment on the security of individuals or groups.

The Garda statement said that the threat of violence against a named person was “a matter of serious concern” and encouraged anyone who had experienced harassment to report it to gardai.

“An Garda Siochana considers any suggestion in respect of the threat to use violence and/or perpetration of violence or intimidation in any general sense or against named individuals or organisations as a matter of serious concern and could potentially be subject to criminal investigation in respect of such matters,” the statement said.

“Should any member of the public, or elected representative or member of the Oireachtas experience harassment or be subject of any crime they are advised to report this to An Garda Siochana.”