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Condemnation as Alliance councillor suffers abuse after only three days as a public representative


Alliance Councillor, Hannah Irwin.

Alliance Councillor, Hannah Irwin.

Alliance Councillor, Hannah Irwin.

An Alliance Councillor has spoken about “unacceptable” abuse she has received having been appointed as a public representative for just three days.

Alliance Councillor for Bangor West, Hannah Irwin, was co-opted after the election of Connie Egan as an MLA for North Down and Nick Mathison for Strangford.

She said a private message which told her to “go f***” yourself” for not accepting a friend request is an example of why women are deterred from entering politics.

She tweeted: “This is the message I received when I didn't accept a friend request from a man I didn't know on my personal Facebook account.

“I was selected to be a councillor just three days ago. Is it any wonder women are apprehensive about getting involved in politics.”

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, Councillor Irwin added: “"Far too often women face abuse when they step forward to serve their community.

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“I was selected on Tuesday and received an abusive comment on Friday, simply because I didn't accept a Facebook friend request from a man I did not know. In 2022, this is unacceptable, and cannot be the norm.”

She added: "I'm proud to have put my name forward to serve everyone in my community, but I won't allow this kind of abuse to go unchallenged.

“The more we work together to confront this kind of behaviour, the more we will encourage other women to come forward to have their voices heard.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long offered her support saying the message was “entitled, aggressive, abusive and bullying.”

She continued: “This is why many women who want to get involved in public life don't. 

"Sorry Hannah Irwin has experienced this in the three days she's been a Councillor: proud she has the courage to face it down, call it out and not be deterred.”

Cllr Irwin’s party colleagues and members of the public have condemned the abuse.

This latest incident comes after an Assembly election campaign during which female candidates were subjected to misogynistic attacks as well as physical and verbal abuse.

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