Thursday 30 March 2017

'Should I be more worried?' - MEP Mairead McGuinness' disgust at vulgar graffiti on road outside her home

Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A politician is outraged at becoming the target of vile abuse after sinister graffiti was painted on the road outside her home.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness condemned the abuse on Twitter as offensive words and Nazi symbols were drawn over a 100 yard stretch on a road near her house in Ardee, Co Louth.

“This unfortunately isn’t the first time that somebody has taken an awful amount of energy to paint very large and vulgar lettering on the roadside.

"The last time it was personalised and my name was written across the road so you can imagine the annoyance and embarrassment and upset that goes along with seeing that,” McGuiness told RTE’s Today with Sean O’ Rourke.

“I’m worried about somebody who does that… It’s out of kilter for the area and it’s not nice.”

McGuinness said that after the murder of British MP Jo Cox last Thursday everyone in politics has been left “traumatised” and the abuse becomes more “sinister”.

Crude graffiti on the roadway outside MEP Mairead McGuinness's house
Crude graffiti on the roadway outside MEP Mairead McGuinness's house

“Should I be more worried? She was gunned down with her assistant beside her. I’m with my assistant today.”

McGuinness said that a Union Jack was also put up on a tree near where the abuse was written on Friday morning.

Crude graffiti on the roadway outside MEP Mairead McGuinness's house
Crude graffiti on the roadway outside MEP Mairead McGuinness's house

Last summer the MEP also received abuse written on her road that read “foreigners out”.

“We should be held to account but I think when it goes with language that isn’t acceptable or is personalised to any one individual it’s certainly goes beyond a line. This wasn’t social media, this was on the roadway.”

McGuinness said she doesn’t usually respond to abuse on social media as she’s “conscious it will provoke an action (she) doesn’t like”.

She said she has received a “kick in the gut” from abuse on social media but usually ignores it in the hope that it will go away.

Former Labour Leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton told Sean O’Rourke that the abuse Jo Cox received is common in Irish politics and shows misogyny against women online.

“The 'c' word which seems to be the word of preference of a lot of these people is meant to dehumanise and belittle women in a way that is extremely destructive.

“In the old days it was a drunk in a pub at the end of the night who said something, now they are spewing out negative things on social media.”

Burton called for social media companies to be more “proactive” and to stop bad language and abuse through the use of filters.

“There is a climate of hate speech. These are cowards who would not physically attack you, but they feel emboldened on social media.

“I understand that people are angry but is this kind of talk helping?”

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