A DUBLIN senator has told how she was left feeling “physically sick” as a result of threats of physical and sexual violence.
Mary Seery Kearney said she felt “weak at the knees” after the vitriolic attack by Facebook trolls in the run up to last year’s local elections.
Senator Seery Kearney, who was elected to South Dublin County Council in May 2019, suffered the vile backlash after she posted about canvassing.
Ms Kearney posted a picture of her campaign team under a sign advertising her first public meeting on Facebook in February 2019.
“I got some very direct threats [in the post] and then also some direct messages,” she told the Irish Times.
“I was threatened with physical violence. One of the direct messages pretty much amounted to a rape threat, so sexual and physical assault.
“Stuff such as ‘if I came their way’, ‘if they got their hands on me’… that sort of thing. I moderated it [on Facebook] at the time and then deleted it because I found it so upsetting.
“It was literally a photograph of my campaign team, wearing yellow jackets, with ‘Vote Mary Kearney’ on them and a poster up on a lamppost. It was something as innocuous as ‘delighted to be out first night canvassing’.”
Ms Kearney, a practising barrister, said she did not contact gardai at the time but in hindsight she believes she should have.
“As a new politician…I just thought I have to toughen up and just be able to take this because this is how it goes. It’s not acceptable.
“We need politicians, we need people to be brave and to represent their communities and to be voices for their communities.
“It’s one thing to criticise that they don’t like my policies and that’s fair enough, absolutely, but it’s another thing for it to become personally directed with threats of violence.”