Online abuse of politicians

A chara, – Pat Leahy (Opinion & Analysis, May 9th) accurately observes how the Greens are starting to be treated with abuse, particularly on social media.

Many of us in other political parties are used to it, and it tends to emanate from many of the same sources.

This abuse tends not to focus on a politician's views or their party's stand on an issue (or even their "virtue signalling"!) but generally becomes ad hominem, and often will involve a "pile-on" of targeted attacks. The language is generally crude, and Pat Leahy is right – female politicians often endure the most disgusting language.

There has been a consistent failure by social media companies to address this online behaviour. This does not just apply in the political arena. If they are not capable of self regulation, then legislative change will be required.


But also of concern is the fact that some political leaders do not call on their supporters to be respectful and they arguably even condone their actions.

The right to free speech also comes with responsibilities. Engage in robust debate with politicians on their policies or statements but “play the ball, not the person”.

The growing levels of personalised abuse is deterring some good people from entering or staying in politics. It is not acceptable. – Is mise,



(Fianna Fáil),


Co Wexford.