Online abuse of some of NI’s female politicians has prompted a call to establish a cross-party women’s group to tackle misogyny.
The latest political figure to be attacked personally on social media was DUP MLA Carla Lockhart.
It came after a photo taken at a DUP dinner on Friday night was shared by party leader Arlene Foster on Twitter.
The subsequent comments included many derogatory remarks about Ms Lockhart’s appearance as well as some criticism of Arlene Foster in relation to the RHI inquiry.
Ms Lockhart said this sort of abuse was something she had become accustomed to: “I get it all the time and have learnt to ignore it, but that doesn’t make it ok.
“No one should be subjected to that type of behaviour. I don’t mind anyone challenging me on policy or on politics but I think when it gets personal and they start to talk about appearances they’ve lost the argument.”
She added: “Any time there’s a picture of me on Twitter, no matter what it’s connected with, I will have someone picking on my appearance.
“Twitter needs to be better regulated. Most of them hide behind untraceable fake profiles.”
Alliance councillor Kate Nicholl said it was important to ‘call out’ these comments, adding that there was appetite for a campaign to tackle misogyny,
Retweeting the picture, she said: “When we see abusive, threatening comments on social media, we all need to call it out because no one can be allowed to think for one second misogyny is ever ok. It never is.”
She said misogynistic abuse had also been directed at Alliance’s Naomi Long and journalist Amanda Ferguson, both of whom have recently been faced with personal insults due to their commentary on developments associated with the Ulster Rugby rape trial.
In another tweet Ms Nicholl added: “I definitely think there’s appetite for a cross-party women’s group campaign on this.”