Carla Lockhart: I'll use Commons stage to fight for NI and tackle cyber bullying
A new MP’s view
I am proud to represent Upper Bann in the House of Commons. It is both humbling and an honour that 20,501 people should put their faith in me to be their voice in Westminster.
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This is something I will not take for granted each day I take my seat.
I will use my voice to ensure that Northern Ireland has its best interests heard.
I want to take the opportunity to thank those who voted for me and my DUP colleagues in this election.
Never has it been more important to ensure there is strong representation.
While I will use my voice for a positive contribution to life in Northern Ireland, there are those who would seek to diminish that.
As a female I have been subject to intense levels of abuse online.
The toxicity that surrounds social media has reached its pinnacle. I have had comments made about my personal appearance - things that go beyond politics.
This is not acceptable.
On my priority list of issues is dealing with cyber bullying.
The effect of online abuse creates negative out-workings, such as poor mental health amongst our children, young people, and indeed even adults, who read such nasty comments about themselves online.
Social media platforms need to come under far more intense scrutiny, as to how they deal with online trolls and bullying.
Facebook and other social media platforms are hugely profitable and have a social responsibility to their users and society as a whole to ensure they do good and not harm.
This includes doing much more to tackle the rise of malevolent fake accounts that are used to spread hate and target other users.
Despite the online abuse I have a job of work to do and I will not be deterred. Ultimately as a new MP, I look forward to learning new things and getting to grips with serving the people who elected me from within the House of Commons chamber.
However it is imperative that we also work to form a functioning Assembly. We need locally elected Ministers in place to deal with hospitals, schools and roads.
These are the issues affecting everyone in Northern Ireland. Others need to wake up to the realities that having no Executive and Assembly has produced.
Northern Ireland has not had a Ministerial-led government for over 1,000 days. This isn't acceptable. Our party will continue to work earnestly to set up Government in Northern Ireland.
These are my first days as an MP but I have a plan for Upper Bann, as my party produced a 12-point plan to get Northern Ireland moving again. I am ready and even more determined to deliver it.