Political figures back Northern minister after vaccine passport Twitter abuse

Political Figures Back Northern Minister After Vaccine Passport Twitter Abuse
Justice Minister Naomi Long and Health Minister Robin Swann received abuse after the Stormont Executive voted through plans for mandatory vaccine passports. Photo: PA Images.
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By Rebecca Black, PA

There has been condemnation after Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister was targeted with a torrent of “vile misogynistic” abuse on social media.

Naomi Long and Health Minister Robin Swann were the focus of the onslaught on Twitter on Wednesday evening just hours after the Stormont Executive agreed to plans to roll out a mandatory vaccine passport in the region.

The UK's Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was among political leaders who expressed solidarity with Ms Long.

“The vile misogynistic abuse that has been directed towards her since yesterday’s vote is disgusting and has no place in this echo chamber or outside of it,” he tweeted.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the abuse directed at Ms Long and Mr Swann was “utterly disgraceful”.

“You can have a point of view, that’s fair, but you’ve no right to abuse anyone on here or anywhere else. #StopTheAbuse,” he tweeted.

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard tweeted: “You have to be a cowardly weasel to launch the type of attack on a female public representative that Naomi Long has suffered today on Twitter. Utterly pathetic Solidarity with @naomi_long.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood urged social media companies “to stop allowing thugs to turn their platforms into cess pits”.

Ms Long’s husband Michael, a councillor in Belfast, thanked all those who had expressed support.

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“Social media is a sewer and full of non-entities seeking attention. Thanks to many people who have expressed support from across the spectrum for Naomi tonight,” he tweeted.

The Executive was divided over mandatory vaccine passports, with the DUP voting against them.

The other four Executive parties backed a proposal from Mr Swann that will see legal enforcement of Covid-19 certification entry requirements for nightclubs, bars, restaurants and a range of other settings from December 13th.

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