Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has spoken about the personal abuse he has received and warned that attacks on politicians are getting “worse and more personal”.
In February a security fence was set up outside Mr Donnelly's home due to security concerns over a "number of incidents”.
Mr Donnelly told Newstalk Breakfast that politicians were human and no one wanted to be attacked, but that it was becoming increasingly difficult to say “we don’t notice any of that stuff.”
“We're all human and none of us want to be attacked - we're living through really, really difficult times. People have been through so much and therefore there is a lot of anger, there is a lot of frustration, there is a lot of pain.”
Cross the line
Mr Donnelly said it was inevitable that public figures were going to attract attacks, but when his family became involved that was a line that should never be crossed.
“When it comes to your home and when your family gets brought into it, that's just a line that should never be crossed. It shouldn't be tolerated, but we've got to make sure that politics is something that people aspire to do.”
The Minister said that the work he was doing now was “the greatest honour of my life.”
All politicians were trying to do their best, he said. “We’re all on the same team here.”
Attacks on politicians were getting worse, and more personal, he said. “I've been in politics now for 10 years, and there's a level of abuse and personalisation that just wasn't there 10 years ago.” Mr Donnelly added that there was an additional “nasty, misogynostic” experience for women in politics.
“It's getting worse and worse - certainly people I talk to, good people who you'd love to see run for office, they just laugh at me and say 'Why would I do that? Why would I put myself out there and take all of this abuse?'”
A 6ft (2m) wooden fence was built outside Mr Donnelly's home after a number of incidents including items being thrown at windows and left on the doorstep.
Mr Donnelly and his wife have three young children.