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John Coyle's political rivals unite to condemn faceless trolls who hide behind keyboards

By Lesley Houston

The online treatment of John Coyle was inexcusable and must be condemned, according to veteran politicians from the electoral area the SDLP activist is contesting.

The DUP's Lord Morrow said last night that bullying tactics of all forms should "of course be condemned".

"It's never excusable and it's never right, and it has to be condemned," he added.

The peer said he had been "subject to bully-boy tactics" since starting in politics in 1973 but had survived, and he praised Mr Coyle for persevering with the same aim in his mind.

"Those who demonstrate this type of bullying demonstrate a weakness," he said. Responding to the vitriol expressed over Mr Coyle's accent, he added: "Across Fermanagh and South Tyrone, we have colloquialisms in our speech, and those who make a person the subject of an attack, verbal or in any other way, well, it says more about the person who is doing the bullying."

Tom Elliot agreed the way Mr Coyle was harassed was "just not acceptable".

The Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman for the same constituency as Mr Coyle said: "It's not acceptable for anyone to be bullied, whether online or in person.

"It's very frustrating that people stoop to that level. I know when I post things on Twitter or Facebook I'm subject to abuse as well, and some people just think it's OK to take a pop at you if you're in the public eye.

"These people who make insulting remarks like this are just not helpful, not only in political life but in life in general. It's intolerable.

"I would encourage him to keep on and I welcome his decision to battle on."

No one from Sinn Fein was available for comment.

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