Thursday 22 August 2019

‘Angry emails and DMs are not constructive criticism’ – Green Party councillor on online ‘abuse’

Green Party Councillor Neasa Hourigan
Credit: Green Party
Green Party Councillor Neasa Hourigan Credit: Green Party

Gabija Gataveckaite

A COUNCILLOR has said that she was inundated with angry emails and 'abuse' after a pedestrianisation initiative in Dublin city centre last weekend.

Green Party councillor for Cabra Glasnevin Neasa Hourigan highlighted the angry messages she received following the occupation of South William Street last Saturday and admitted that it did take a toll on her.

After sending out a tweet from her personal account last Saturday announcing the occupation of the street, Ms Hourigan received a flurry of emails and angry tweets, as well as abuse on the street.

“DMs and angry emails are not criticism, they’re abuse,” she said.

“I sent out a tweet on Saturday saying that we had occupied the street, like a call to arms, to say, 'here we are, come join us'.

“I then got a lot of replies to that tweet and many angry emails, saying ‘how dare you’, ‘you’re breaking the law’ and some choice words,” she explained.

“I got DMs saying that they’ll never vote for me and calling me names.”

While the Green Party was not directly involved in the pedestrianisation of South William Street, many Green Party councillor supported the occupation.

The occupation was organised by the Irish Pedestrian Network, founded and organised by Ms Hourigan, Dublin Cycling and Dublin Commuter Coalition groups.

Ms Hourigan stood on top of South William Street on the day “not directing, but ensuring that nobody drove in” to the street.

According to the councillor, she also received some verbal abuse from every third taxi driver that attempted to drive up the street.

“I’m not just a politician, I’m a female politician.

“I’m also a new councillor so I’m not used to it, would love to say that I was. Those emails sit like a stone in my inbox, and I delete them very quickly,” she added.

“But I got no abuse from women, not a single email was from a woman.”

Ms Hourigan said that she experiences anxiety the day before protests and demonstrations.

“I don’t particularly feel very comfortable and I have high anxiety the day before protests,” she said.

“But I think protests are very important and a cornerstone of our democracy.”

The occupation of South William Street was held a day before College Green was due to be pedestrianised in a trial by Dublin City Council on the following day, Sunday.

“I think people know that if you vote Green, you’re not voting for the status quo. We’re just going to take it on the chin,” said Ms Hourigan.

She said that since the Green Party's success in the local elections, abuse on social media has become much more frequent.

“Some of the ways we’ll deal with climate change worries people and with some of the discussion, they think that major changes are coming.

“If you want to push back, form or join a group and do something constructive, like what we’re doing,” she concluded.

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