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‘It’s definitely got worse in the last two years’ – Newstalk’s Andrea Gilligan on ‘horrible, nasty online comments’

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Andrea Gilligan

Andrea Gilligan

Andrea Gilligan

Newstalk broadcaster Andrea Gilligan has opened up about the “exceptionally nasty” messages she receives on her social media.

She spoke today about Emily Attack’s BBC documentary which aired last night and explored her experience of getting explicit, unsolicited images and DM’s sent to her on a daily basis.

On the issue of sexual harassment, the Lunchtime Live presenter said she has also experienced a barrage of messages from strangers.

“I know from my own experience, I have had pictures sent to me on Instagram. I’ve had photos from one guy, topless photographs, sent quite regularly, sent from the torso up,” she said.

“One (message) that really struck me last December was a guy telling me he had spotted me on a night out waiting for a taxi and could tell me where I was waiting in Dublin, close to a garda station and that I was there with a guy.

“While there might have been absolutely nothing to that, it was only when I told other colleagues or friends that story that it probably hit me that I actually was a bit spooked by that.

“And I’ve had all sorts of messages sent to me privately, others on social media, on Twitter, on threads, even to this particular show’s page. They’re still there...comments under videos.”

The Donegal native was left particularly shocked when a friend flagged a series of public comments about her.

“When I did and I looked and I saw the extent of it, they were horrible, really nasty, very personal comments talking about me, my body, my appearance, everything you can possibly imagine.

“Like, ‘Has she put on weight?’ Then naturally everyone has to chime in and give their opinion on that. And that of course attracts a huge onslaught of further comments that come with it, all public. And it’s definitely got worse in the last two years, there’s no point in saying otherwise.”

Having spoken to friends and colleagues in other radio stations and media organisations, she knows she’s not the only one who receives this kind of public commentary.

Ms Gilligan, who has fronted her popular lunchtime show for over two years, said she has “no issue” with someone saying they dislike her show or don’t agree with her opinions.

“But I think when it comes to your appearance and body appearance and body shape, how you wear your hair, what clothes I chose to wear, it takes a different turn and it becomes exceptionally nasty,” she said.

Interestingly, she said it wasn’t confined to just men. While the comments on public threads about her are generally from male social media users, about 95pc of private “bitchy messages” on Instagram and Facebook Messenger are actually from women.

“It’s not an attack on men, not at all. The bitching messages I receive, the majority of them are from women,” she said.

Sometimes, when she clicks into the person’s profile, they are genuine accounts with pictures of them with their family or their children.

“In my view, people are more used to giving their opinion now publicly and then they reckon everything’s a free-for-all. They reckon they can say whatever they want, to whomever they want,” she said.


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