Belfast Telegraph

Trolling victim calls on Sinn Fein to ditch offensive accounts

By Rebecca Black

A victim of Sinn Fein trolls on social media has hit out at the party after one of its MLAs complained yesterday about online abuse.

Sinn Fein MLA Michaela Boyle called for Twitter to ensure its platform becomes a "less toxic space for women".

It comes just days after Sinn Fein senator Maire Devine was suspended for retweeting a comment insulting the memory of IRA murder victim Brian Stack.

West Belfast woman Mairia Cahill says she also has been targeted with "relentless abusive comments" from Sinn Fein members and others who defended them on Twitter.

The abuse started after Ms Cahill spoke out in 2014 alleging she had been abused as a teenager by a Provisional IRA member and then subjected to an IRA internal investigation which forced her to confront her abuser.

Yesterday, Ms Boyle said in a statement that she had been taunted about a disability.

Ms Boyle said: "I have a physical disability and that has been often commented about, and how I should get that disability 'fixed', and that to me is derogatory. I don't care how my physical disability looks to others. I am comfortable in my own skin with it."

She added: "Life in the public eye often leaves you open to abuse and personal comments. Unfortunately women also seem to be targeted specifically about the way we look and what we wear. More needs to be done to tackle this!"

Ms Boyle was commenting on a report from Amnesty International on violence and abuse against women on Twitter.

"Online abuse should be reported to the PSNI and to internet providers," she said.

"Twitter also has a responsibility to make their platform a safer and less toxic space for women."

Ms Cahill said Ms Boyle should not be abused online - but said Sinn Fein is guilty of abusing others on social media.

"Michaela Boyle is right about one thing - no one should be targeted on Twitter," she said. "She should not be subject to abuse.

"I had to protect my Twitter account due to online relentless abusive comments from Sinn Fein members and others who defended them - so I know exactly how she feels.

"Perhaps Sinn Fein could contribute to a safer online environment by deleting their anonymous parody troll accounts?"

Ms Cahill said she believes Sinn Fein are behind recent online campaigns against high profile journalists Stephen Nolan, Frank Mitchell and some southern commentators.

"I think there is a pattern in their (Sinn Fein's) behaviour where they set up parody accounts, one of those had been against me, but also parodies of news outlets, they are quite nasty in what they do, and a pattern of deny and attack, and they try and get people to stop speaking," she said.

She described the timing of the move by Amnesty as "incredible". "It has come on the back of three days of Austin Stack being dragged through it about his father," she said.

Earlier this year Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff resigned after tweeting a picture of himself posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head, on the same day as the anniversary of the IRA massacre which is known by the same name.

Belfast Telegraph

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