Belfast Telegraph

Alliance councillor reveals death threat as he urges social media giants to act

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A Belfast Alliance Party councillor has spoken about how he has received bullets in the post and been targeted with death threats.

Emmet McDonough-Brown made the comments after DUP MLA Carla Lockhart spoke out about abuse she has received on social media, specifically aimed at her appearance.

Writing on Twitter, Mr McDonough-Brown called on social media platforms to take a tougher stance against online abuse.

"Seeing as we're talking abuse, I'll share some of my story. Now I'm tough enough but it's wrong and women seem to be particularly affected," he wrote.

"I've been sent bullets in the post, I've been threatened with murder, assault, I've been told to kill myself. Facebook and Twitter need to act."

He added that some of the abuse referenced his father, Jimmy Brown, a republican paramilitary who was murdered when Mr McDonough-Brown was eight years old.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Alliance councillor Kate Nicholl, who co-ordinates her party's women's network, said the comments aimed at Ms Lockhart were "disgraceful" and that it is "a way to humiliate and shut women down".

Ms Lockhart received a barrage of abuse after an image of her with Arlene Foster was posted to the DUP leader's Twitter account.

In an interview with the BBC, she said there was clear evidence of "misogyny".

"We all have features that we would maybe change, we all look at ourselves in the mirror every morning and maybe think if we looked slightly different it would be wonderful - but it doesn't give anyone the right to comment on them or to pass comment on them," she said.

The MLA added: "A number of female politicians have suffered this on a regular basis.

"I've grown immune to it because I do receive them on a regular basis, but that doesn't make it right."

The PSNI has said it is aware of the abuse aimed at Ms Lockhart and enquiries are ongoing.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill spoke out in support of the Upper Bann MLA.

"Abusive, nasty or disrespectful comments towards anyone on social media are totally unacceptable. No one should have to tolerate it," Mrs O'Neill posted on Twitter.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted: "Just appalling to target @carlalockhart and @DUPleader like this."

A Twitter spokesman said that it works with political parties and parliamentary authorities to raise awareness of anti-abuse tools, and said that it does "not allow targeted abuse and harassment".

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