Martin describes WhatsApp comments as ‘repulsive, demeaning, misogynistic’

Deputy leader disappointed by party executive’s attitude towards exchange involving Green colleague

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, pictured during a visit to the National Archives on Tuesday.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, pictured during a visit to the National Archives on Tuesday.

 

Green Party deputy-leader Catherine Martin said the “repulsive, demeaning, misogynistic” content of a WhatsApp group exchange involving TD Brian Leddin would likely be discussed at the party’s upcoming think-in.

Last week it emerged Mr Leddin would not be sanctioned over the controversy in which he referred to Independent councillor Elisa O’Donovan as “unhinged” and “craving fame”.

He subsequently apologised for the three-year-old exchange which also included other offensive comments about Ms O’Donovan by other members of the messaging group.

In a recent circular to party members, the executive committee said it had considered and took the matter it extremely seriously.

“Deputy Leddin has apologised, saying that he does not condone the inappropriate posts in a WhatsApp group and has expressed his regret at not intervening [in relation to comments by others in the group],” the committee said.

Party sources said Mr Leddin’s apology would suffice and he would not face any formal sanction.

On Wednesday, however, Ms Martin appeared to inject new life into the controversy, saying she presumed it would be discussed during the party’s think-in next week.

“The language…that took place in that WhatsApp in my opinion was repulsive, demeaning, misogynistic, just really disgusting,” she said, adding that she had let her thoughts on the subject be known to the party leadership and to Mr Leddin.

“To me, it’s not just language used but I believe silence is an enabler and as a woman in politics I’m really aware of that, as a founder of the [women’s] caucus I’m very aware of that too.”

Ms Martin said she was disappointed in the statement issued by the party’s executive committee but respected the process.

“There seems to be a lack of, in my opinion, a lack of understanding of the hurt caused to the women, the target of this, but the hurt for all women who feel they are constantly being targeted,” she said, referring to women in general public life.