Kate O'Connell says Fine Gael executive member is abusing women on Twitter

The Dublin Bay South TD handed out copies of tweets at a meeting

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Kate O'Connell at an event in Dublin in May 2017 | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

10:20 16 Nov 2017 Jack Quann 10:20 Thursday 16 November 2017

Updated 17:30

The Health Minister has said he commends Kate O’Connell for standing up for herself after allegedly being trolled on Twitter.

The Fine Gael TD has accused a member of the party’s national executive of sending her abusive messages online.

Fine Gael is now investigating the claims.

Minister Simon Harris says Ms O'Connell was right to speak out:

“Kate is a very good friend of mine and an excellent colleague,” he said. “I think we need more like her in Dáil Eireann – people who aren’t afraid to say what they believe in, to stand up for what they believe in; to call out low standards and to demand high ones.

“I commend her for what she is doing.

“I want to be very careful in relation to what I say regarding the individual case because my understanding is that a complaint has been received by the party.

“It is important that a process is put in place.”

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris

"Consistent, sustained" abuse

Ms O'Connell has said the online behaviour of Barry Walsh, a former chairman of Young Fine Gael, constitutes 'consistent, sustained, gendered abuse' - adding that it has been "going on for a long time." 

The Dublin Bay South representative told a private meeting of TDs and senators that she wanted them to be aware of activity on Mr Walsh's Twitter account.

Ms O'Connell claims there are a number of derogatory tweets about her and other female politicians.

She told Pat Kenny she printed out the social media posts and passed them around at a meeting on Wednesday.

"I gave out a hard copy, print-outs, of screen-grabs of tweets last night.

"I felt as though if I went in and I just said 'look, there's a member of the national executive being abusive on Twitter' that people in the parliamentary Party (who are) obviously busy; they've more to be at, they'd go 'Isn't that terrible, the executive will deal with it.

"So I felt the impact was if I handed them out".

"This was about highlighting the fact that we have somebody on the national executive of Fine Gael who thinks it's appropriate to behave in this manner.

"This is not a bad weekend that he was having - this has been consistent, it's sustained, and it's gendered abuse and it's been going on for a long time and it's not acceptable.

"And as a member of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, I don't think it's acceptable and to be honest - conversations after the meeting last night - the wider membership of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party do not think this is acceptable behaviour".

Ms O'Connell says several tweets relate to other female politicians: "It's consistent use of the word 'bitch' with reference to women".

"He does abuse men every so often on Twitter, but it's predominately weighted towards women".

Source: Twitter

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Kate O'Connell was speaking during a Newstalk-hosted debate at Electric Picnic