City councillor calls for an end to online trolling

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LIMERICK City Fianna Fáil councillor Catherine Slattery has called for an end to online trolling and bullying after experiencing it during the course of the General Election campaign.

Following the death of former ‘Love Island’ host Caroline Flack, Cllr Slattery said that online trolling, which is believed to have caused the TV celebrity to take her own life last weekend, is dangerous and must stop.

“I want to raise awareness of online trolling and bullying in light of the recent death of Caroline Flack. Her friends are saying she could not cope with the harassment of online trolls and feared that coming up to her court case this trolling would escalate.

“This kind of abuse is not just aimed at celebrities it is aimed at young people every day online because of their appearance or an outfit, or whatever the case may be. Trolls target people until they have made that person so self-conscious about themselves that they try or succeed in taking their own life,” Cllr Slattery told the Limerick Post.

“As a public representative this can be an issue for many of us. Especially in the run up to Local and General Election. I my self have been a victim of trolls online as I am sure have many of my colleagues on Limerick City and County Council.

“There are a lot of key board warriors out there that feel the need to pass comment, never anything nice, on your posts or send you private messages cutting you or your party down. While this kind of abuse comes with the job, unfortunately it is not okay to call people names or comment on their appearance or get personal in anyway.”

The City East representative also takes the view that while everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and their views on political parties, there is no need to make it personal.

“When the General Election was taking place I did a lot of canvassing for Willie O’Dea and someone taught it was okay to have a cut at me on social media. While I let this matter go over my head, a lot of people would not be able to deal with it and it can affect people in different ways.

“Subsequently I came across the same person on a front desk of a business and when I walked into the foyer, he put his head down. He was not so confident without his keyboard,” she declared.

The Fianna Fáil politician strongly feels that online bullying and trolling has to stop.

“We all like a debate and getting or point across but when it goes beyond that it can get dangerous. There are too many fake profiles and accounts dishing out horrible abuse online to people, no one deserves this kind of abuse and it can affect a person mental health.

“My message to people young and old is if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all, remember public representative are for the good of the people and we spend our days helping people and communities. We actually care about people and community issues and want to help our communities and city in any way that we can,” she concluded.