Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster: My children have been left upset by revolting abuse I get online

By Adrian Rutherford

Arlene Foster has described how her children have been left upset by the "revolting personal abuse" she receives on social media.

The DUP leader said the trolling is worse than the Troubles era in terms of the poisonous nature of the insults.

She revealed she had stopped looking at Twitter after being targeted by English trolls over her anti-abortion views.

"Social media is incredibly personal... If you walk down the street people wouldn't say what they say online or use the same language even if they thought it," she told The Times.

"To do it in such an abusive way and on a public forum is a very bad indicator of where society has got to.

"When I was growing up, we had problems and the Troubles, but it wasn't continuous sexist, revolting personal abuse like this.

"I'm not saying people didn't feel like that, but it would probably be sounding off in the pub on a Saturday night and the person and their family wouldn't know the abuse was happening.

"It's tough for my children. I don't think it scares them like we were scared by the IRA as children, but it does really upsets them."

Mrs Foster's comments came during a wide-ranging interview with the newspaper.

She also discussed her working relationship with other female politicians, describing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as "cold".

She said she enjoyed a good friendship with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Mrs Foster even hinted she would be happy to attend the same-sex wedding of Ms Davidson.

"I would never assume to be invited but then it's not a big political issue," she added.

Although respecting Ms Davidson's sexuality, the DUP chief remains adamant that marriage is a "bond between a man and a woman".

She previously voted against an Assembly Bill that would legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster also came under fire after it emerged she had sent a letter to the Scottish Parliament asking it to prevent couples from here converting their civil partnerships to same-sex marriages in Scotland.

Mrs Foster discussed how she spoke at length with Theresa May at the recent Conservative party conference.

One of their chats occurred just minutes before the Prime Minister delivered her disastrous keynote speech that was hampered by her sore throat, falling stage props and comedian Simon Brodkin (aka Lee Nelson) handing her a fake P45.

Mrs Foster added: "She'd (Mrs May) been talking to me about how this was a real make or break speech, so I felt really sorry for her.

"He (Brodkin) could have had acid or a knife. I'm not sure that would happen here, we're quite vigilant."

While Mrs Foster is happy for the DUP to prop up a struggling and divided Conservative Government, she is adamant that she could never give Labour the same support while the party was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

She added: "I would never be able to do any deal with him (Corbyn), he supported the IRA in the past."

Belfast Telegraph

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