The mayor of Galway says he had to take a step back from his role temporarily after a 'disgusting and disturbing' campaign of intimidation, abuse and threats targeting him and his family.
Independent councillor Mike Cubbard has experienced everything from death threats to people impersonating him on WhatsApp during his term as mayor.
He stepped back from the role last month to 'clear his head' and assist with the Garda investigation into the threats.
He has returned to his duties this week - saying he has "received huge public support from individuals, businesses and organisations" after going public with his story.
On The Pat Kenny Show, Mayor Cubbard said the intimidation started in late 2019 and early 2020.
He said: “It started off initially with basic slurs that were probably harmless enough… written across my local community centre.
“That developed a few months later on into [something] more graphic. Some of the language I couldn’t use on radio - but it was using the f-word, b-word and c-word.
"Then it was using homophobic and racist slurs against others in the community, as well as my name up there beside them."
Last November and December, fake WhatsApp accounts were set up.
The person or people responsible sent messages claiming to be sent from Mayor Cubbard's 'new phone'.
The Galway mayor recalled: “That developed on into very, very disgusting text messages sent to councillors and other people - sending quite disgusting sexual comments and other things like that.
"That was quite disturbing because some of the commentary was terrible and shocking.”
Soon, the graffiti started again - this time with even more graphic language and threats.
Mayor Cubbard told Pat: “This time it started saying they would burn me out of my home… ‘we know where you are Cubbard, we’ll burn you out of it'.
“It culminated last Tuesday week when a neighbour in a house not too far from the house where I grew up… contacted me to say there was a note left in their garden.
"It more or less said ‘HSE b*****d... Cubbard, we know where you are, we’ll burn you out of it and we’re going to get you’. It’s a threat made towards my family and myself.”
He said another slur written on the local centre was “directly targeting my mother, more or less saying there’d be a sexual attack done”.
'I would not subject anyone to what I’ve gone through'
Mayor Cubbard doesn't know who exactly is responsible for the threats and abuse, although he noted he has spoken out publicly against some of the protests and demonstrations held in the city during lockdown.
The independent politician said he's very proud to be mayor of Galway, but he also has a wife and three young children whose safety he has to be conscious of.
The councillor says he has no problem with people disagreeing with his political decisions or stances, but what he has experienced crosses a line.
He told Pat it was particularly challenging to see one comment on social media saying he should be tied to a rock and put at the bottom of the River Corrib.
He reported it to social media firms, but it was never taken down.
Mayor Cubbard said he's also been 'alarmed' to hear from other representatives across the country who've experienced similar things.
He said: “I’m an independent councillor… I’ve been very lucky to be mayor for two years running in Galway. I’ve gone as mayor to schools and encouraged kids in secondary schools particularly to put their names forward to be community reps.
“I cannot, hand on heart, at the moment say to any child do that in future - I would not subject anyone to what I’ve gone through.”
He said it’s something policy-makers now need to make sure doesn’t happen to the next generation of elected officials.