The trawl of politicians’ social media accounts looks set to continue with yet more offensive messages, this time linked to female members of Sinn Fein, emerging.
Doug Beattie has managed to survive the scandal linked to almost 30 offensive messages posted on his Twitter account ten years ago.
He also faces legal action for a tweet that repeated a joke referring to Edwin Poots’ wife and a brothel posted at the weekend - just hours after being named the most popular leader in a Belfast Telegraph opinion poll.
It was an act of monumental self sabotage.
Beattie has survived as UUP leader, possibly because no one else wants his job so close to the May Assembly election.
No group, bar white men, escaped Doug’s wrath, his tweets crossed the full gambit, from sexually suggestive and misogynist posts about women, including female soldiers, to slurs against members of the Traveller community.
Watching other political parties rub their hands in glee as the Beattie bounce was derailed in a very public manner was akin to a slow-moving car crash – you just knew others would fall before the week was out.
On occasions I have had reasons to report members of political parties to their leadership for sexually suggestive and highly misogynistic tweets – there are less clean hands than dirty ones in the world of politics.
Social media can be the most useful of tools, allowing instant interaction with people anywhere in the world, but it can also be a curse.
In the history of human communication, social media is still in its infancy.
In its most vacuous form, it has an ability to build people up, turn them into celebrities and millionaire influencers, and an ability to bring them crashing down just as quick.
The author Jon Ronson in his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, looks at the way social media has become a modern-day amphitheatre for public floggings.
However, Ronson’s book looks at the experience of ordinary people who found themselves unwittingly and unknowingly in the public eye.
What happened this week with the UUP leader and then with Sinn Fein’s Jemma Dolan, Sinead Ennis and Emma Sheerin was different.
Those who willingly put themselves in the public eye found out with power comes responsibility.
In Doug Beattie’s case, it seems a decade-long makeover turned him from a Chubby Brown tribute act to leader of the Union of People, and the progressive face of modern-day unionism.
It’s been quite a journey. His tweets are so offensive, it seems unbelievable that anyone, never mind a grown, educated man, ever thought they were ok.
Going by Doug’s tweets, ‘Barrack room banter’ appears to mainly involve punching down on those less fortunate.
Travellers and sex workers were among those who were the punchline of the ‘jokes’.
Of the three Sinn Fein politicians, Sinead Ennis’s contained sectarian slurs and language that you’d be more likely to hear from some football shirt-wearing lout in a bar in Benidorm than an elected representative.
The other two women use language to describe other women that would cause outrage if it came from a man.
Some of the messages are more cringeworthy than career ending, but no less problematic for Sinn Fein.
Like the Beattie scandal, those rushing to criticise the women would need to make sure their own back yards are clean, or else they might be next.
For all political representatives, this should be seen as a watershed moment.
We have an issue with misogyny in Northern Ireland, it remains a patriarchal society.
Casual misogyny when allowed to go unchecked makes its way into every other section of public life.
If Doug Beattie really has been on a journey, then he needs to show what he now intends to do to put right a wrong.
The swiftness of the Sinn Fein apology is a sign of how the party is aware they need to put this to bed and move it on as quickly as possible.
Slurs against women, regardless of whether initiated by men or other women, hold us back and deter young women moving into public-facing roles.
We live in a post truth and accountability age - politicians rarely resign. In my 20-plus years as a journalist, I could count examples on one hand, and a few of those didn’t so much resign as were pushed.
And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Rather than a hamster wheel of increasingly inexperienced, bland politicians, we should demand better of the people we have.
There is always the possibility of learning from this experience.
It could be a chance to explore better ways to look at social media and how it is used, to train young people in ways to engage positively rather than risk their future career prospects.
And an end to the kind of ‘humour’ that ignores those with power and punches down on those with no agency for cheap laughs.
We have all been guilty of saying and doing things that we would regret ten years later, but not all of us put ourselves forward for public office.
Those that do must set an example and that’s the lesson from what has been a very strange week in politics.