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'She’ll be taking maternity leave, no point electing her' - female politicians who lost seats highlight online abuse

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Lisa Chambers. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Lisa Chambers. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Lisa Chambers. Photo: Gerry Mooney

FEMALE POLITICIANS who lost their seats in the general election last weekend have spoken out about the online abuse they've received, claiming it is “more intensive” for women than men.

Speaking on Sunday with Miriam on RTÉ’ Radio One, outgoing minister of social protection Regina Doherty said that female politicians get “more stick”.

“I think we get more grief, I think we get more stick, we definitely get more abuse.

“I think our abuse is more personal. I was talking to the ladies outside, if I had a euro for every time I’ve been called the c-word in the last month, I wouldn’t need to retire,” she said.

Referring to the death of Love Island presenter Caroline Flack yesterday, Ms Doherty said that we need to re-evaluate “how we actually deal with people”.

“We all need to take a reality check as to how we actually deal with people. I know politicians don’t have the best regard by Irish people, but we do work hard.”

Former Fianna Fáil TD in Mayo Lisa Chambers said online abuse is “quite intensive”.

“There’s a different level for female politicians, it’s a lot more personalised, a lot more based on, you know, on the tone of your voice, the colour of your hair, how you dress. I’m pregnant currently so that was coming up too - she’ll be taking maternity leave, no point electing her,” she explained.

“There’s an extra level and you have to be so careful on how you come across.

“Being assertive for a woman is often being bossy or aggressive.

“There’s a different standard,” she added.

The former deputy added that words have an impact and appealed to members of the media and “nameless individuals” to re-think their actions.

“It’s the online faceless, nameless individuals that just sit on their computers on their couch and just type the most vile and hurtful comments. They do impact, words have an impact.

“But also, to those working in the media - sometimes, the stories that you run and the way that they are written they fuel that online hatred so there is a link. I think we have to have a very mature conversation about that,” she said.

Speaking on the programme, outgoing independent children’s minister Katherine Zappone, former Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan and outgoing Fine Gael social protection minister Regina Doherty admitted they would bow out of Irish politics.

But Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers said that she was not “finished yet”.

“I feel like I’m only getting started in politics,” she said.

“I feel I have more to do, I don’t know that that is exactly but I’m certainly not going to close the door on it this week, so we’ll see what comes.”

Online Editors