Belfast Telegraph

Outpouring of support for SDLP's Nichola Mallon after criticism for taking baby to Secretary of State meeting

Nichola Mallon pictured taking her infant son to a meeting with the Secretary of State. Credit: Gareth Gordon
Nichola Mallon pictured taking her infant son to a meeting with the Secretary of State. Credit: Gareth Gordon

There has been an outpouring of support for SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon after she was criticised online for taking her infant son to a meeting with Secretary of State Julian Smith.

BBC journalist Gareth Gordon snapped Ms Mallon arriving for a meeting on Friday as part of a party delegation to discuss Brexit and restoring Stormont with the Secretary of State.

One Twitter user, 'Richard', criticised the North Belfast MLA for bringing her son to the meeting.

 “Sorry, she is being paid to represent us as an MLA, how can she conduct herself properly if she has a hungry infant in tow. Stop acting like a bimbo and grow up," he wrote.

The Tweet garnered a massive response with a number of leading politicians stepping in to defend Ms Mallon.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that he was "glad" to have Ms Mallon on the SDLP team.

"Nichola is one of the most courageous, compassionate public representatives on these islands. She's been the subject of vile abuse and death threats but it couldn't stop her speaking truth to power," he said.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said she was "one of the finest and most sincere politicians I've worked with in Northern Ireland".

UUP leader Robin Swann described the comment as "truly pathetic".

His party colleague Steven Aiken said that if critics had any idea of the work Ms Mallon does they would "apologise to her forthwith".

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said the remarks were "disgusting".

People have no idea what it is like to be in politics and have a little baby," the Upper Bann MLA said.

"Charlie comes to meetings with me and well dare anyone complain.  If you were in a “normal” job you would still be off on maternity leave."

Alliance Party MLA Kellie Armstrong said that the comments were "out of order, sexist and disgusting".

"Shame on you. Nichola Mallon is one of the hardest working mothers I know. There is no issue with any child being in a meeting.

"It's better a working mother is able to represent her constituents or would you rather she was excluded?," the Strangford MLA said.  

The SDLP MLA thanked everyone for their support.

This is the kind of misogynistic abuse women in politics have to put up with," Ms Mallon wrote.

"Thank you all for the kind words, support and solidarity. #WorkingMamaAndProud."

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