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Wednesday 21 August 2019

'Whether I'm Irish or not has nothing to do with them' - councillor Hazel Chu hits back at online trolls after 'threatening' messages

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Green Party councillor Hazel Chu. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Evie Kearney

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu has said she received hundreds of hate messages and anonymous phone calls after online trolls posted abusive tweets over her nationality.

The Irish-born councillor started receiving the hateful messages this week after she shared a video online that branded her as 'that migrant.'

The controversy caused her name to trend on Twitter and an online petition was started calling for Cllr Chu's resignation.

However, Cllr Chu said the abuse is coming from a "small minority but a vocal minority," many of whom she believes are operating from overseas.

"This is what happens with dog whistle politics," she said.

"When something in the country isn’t right, they latch on to what they think will mobilise people and what will mobilise people is scaring people to think there’s mass immigration when there’s not.

"They seem to have support from overseas which amplifies it. It’s not just people within Ireland having a discussion, the small minority is tying in supporters overseas - it makes it a hundred times louder."

Cllr Chu told Independent.ie that she went as far as calling the guards this week after receiving anonymous phone calls which she felt were threatening.

As a councillor, her phone number is publicly accessible for constituents.

"Yesterday I started receiving phone calls. The first call was just someone breathing very heavily down the phone and by the sixth call you could hear a radio in the background and that was it. I reported it to the guards along with the hate mail," she said.

"People have said 'oh, why don’t you take your number down then?'

"I can’t. The whole point is people should be able to contact me for any issues that I can support them with so I can’t exactly go and hide under a rock just because they don’t like me.

"I know that there are plenty of people who don’t like me because I happen to not look Irish and they question my nationality, my ethnicity, but the fact remains whether I’m Irish or not is absolutely nothing to do with them.

"If I can’t do my job that’s one thing but the very fact that there’s this whole debate about my nationality all of a sudden is more than a bit infuriating."

Cllr Chu also said she does not believe any of the online trolls have come from her own constituency of Pembroke in Dublin city.

She was the first councillor to be elected in the constituency in this year's local elections where she won almost double the quota.

"I don’t think any of my constituents are fascists," she said.

"I think that anyone that’s within my constituency has been very supportive. If they have any issues with me they would contact me directly."

The councillor, whose parents are originally from Hong Kong, said that she and her brother experienced racism growing up in the nineties, while her parents were discriminated against in the eighties after immigrating to Ireland.

"The problem is there’s always been an undertone of people discriminating against others in Ireland," she said.

"It’s a small minority who, unfortunately for whatever reason, be it that the economy is still terrible, there’s a massive housing crisis; they want to blame people and somehow they seem to have it set in their mind that all the woes in the country are due to mass immigration."

"What I would ask is for people to bring facts to the argument and bring facts to debate - you can’t sit there and start shouting and advocating things that are simply not true," she added.

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