Latest: Health Minister commends Kate O’Connell for bringing up FG member's alleged trolling

Update: 3.58pm: The Health Minister Simon Harris says he commends Kate O’Connell for standing up for herself after allegedly being trolled on Twitter.

The Fine Gael TD has accused a member of the party’s national executive of sending her abusive messages online.

Fine Gael is now investigating the claims.

Minister Harris says Kate was right to speak out.

He said: "Kate is a very good friend of mine and an excellent colleague, I think we need more like her in Dáil Eireann, people who aren't afraid to say what they believe in, to stand up for what they believe in, to call out those standards and to demand high ones.

"So, I commend her for what she is doing. I want to be very careful in realtion to what I say about the individual case, because3 my understanding is that the complaint has been received by the party and it is important that a process is put in place."

Update 2.30pm: Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has apologised on behalf of Fine Gael to actress Tara Flynn for comments made against her on twitter by a member of the party’s executive council Barry Walsh.

Regina Doherty

Dublin Bay South TD Kate O'Connell raised the issue of the tweets against herself and other women at a private party meeting last night, and handed out hard copies of the tweets. She has also written a formal letter of complaint to Fine Gael’s General Secretary Tom Curran.

Today, Regina Doherty said: "The one I take the most umbrage at is a gorgeous lady called Tara Flynn whom I want to apologise for on behalf of FG for the hurt she has been on the receiving end for the last couple of months."

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone joined Minister Doherty on RTE's Sean O'Rourke show this morning, and said no one could support this kind of behaviour, which she said was not about women versus men or misogyny, but about common decency.

Minister Doherty said: "You kind of get desensitized on twitter... You try and block out the crap, excuse my language...but he reached a pinnacle on Saturday afternoon."

Senator Noone added: "It's very important that natural justice and due process is observed here, (but) I don't disagree with one word Regina has said and I admire her for being so forthright in this."

Today with Sean O'Rourke had made unsuccessful efforts to make contact with Barry Walsh.

Addional efforts this afternoon have so far also been unsuccessful.

Earlier:

TD Kate O’Connell has made a formal complaint to party bosses about a non-elected senior figure in Fine Gael engaging in online abuse, write Juno McEnroe and Elaine Loughlin.

Concern around the member, who is based in north Dublin, was raised at the weekly Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting in Leinster House last night.

The man has called women obscene names on Twitter and used bad language and slurs against women both within the party and outside it on social media, particularly around the topic of abortion.

Ms O’Connell told colleagues she had made a formal complaint to party headquarters and that a letter had been sent to general secretary Tom Curran.

Ms O’Connell voiced her concern about “online abuse” by the Fine Gael official and circulated a five-page printout of tweets by the man.

These included nasty remarks made to women, calling female politicians “bitches” on several occasions.

The person has also dubbed individuals “stupid” over their views on the Eighth Amendment.

It is understood that some of the tweets had been directed at Ms O’Connell.

Ms O’Connell asked her colleagues for support with her complaint at the meeting.

The Fine Gael member, a non-elected official, is based in Dublin and has worked with the party for many years. The person also holds an important role in the party.

Another female Fine Gael politician spoke of her concern about the online abuse by the party figure.

Stephanie Regan, who ran for the Fine Gael party in the Dublin Bay North constituency in last year’s general election, said: “I don’t think he has respect for women. I think it certainly has to be addressed by the party.”

Ms Regan, who campaigns against bullying and harassment in the workplace, said she had made contact with the person last year over the contents of his tweets.

“I would have spoken out to him over a year ago — I was thinking, ‘Does he realise that in every second tweet he is using the word bitch?’ I think that he has an unfortunate lack of awareness about how he comes across and maybe how he feels about women.”

Calls were not returned to the Irish Examiner last night by the official in question.

A Fine Gael party spokesman last night declined to comment on the issue.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner


 

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