Cork TD Holly Cairns has said she decided to go public about a terrifying ordeal with a stalker who regularly showed up at her home in order to confront the abuse politicians are faced with.
The Social Democrats TD this week revealed that a persistent online stalker began showing up at her home leaving her ‘absolutely terrified’.
That came after the online abuse she was getting took a sinister turn when she began to receive pornographic videos featuring other women named Holly.
She said she went from being someone who never locked her door to needing CCTV and a domestic security system.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, she said when she first arrived in Leinster House, the online abuse she received was “water off a duck’s back”.
Everything changed however when the stalker showed up at her home.
“I remember being warned going into politics about the abuse politicians get and I fully thought they meant people disagreeing with your political beliefs and I thought, that’s grand I’m well able for that,” she said
“Even when the abuse I got was of a different nature to that, online and even in the mail, I felt kind of relatively unphased by it if I’m honest and maybe, in hindsight, a little bit obnoxiously, I thought, ‘oh that’s water off a duck’s back for me.’”
“It wasn’t until someone turned up at my house that yeah, every message that I got from then on, I then felt, actually that’s a real person who could turn up at my home.
“So, it did change things for me in terms of how I felt.”
Deputy Cairns said the stalking has also made it harder to do her job.
“The Gardaí have advised me that I shouldn’t have constituency clinic in a traditional sense where I advertised my whereabouts and will likely be on my own,” she said.
“Things like that do start to really prohibit the way you do your work.
“For a time, I did feel that I wanted to take a step back from doing different media and different things but then I thought, if that’s the case, we probably need to have a discussion about what can be done.”
Deputy Cairns has previously spoken to The Anton Savage Show about the abuse she receives; however, at the time, she said she didn’t want to discuss the details of what had happened for fear it would bring more abuse down on her.
This morning, she said she now believes it is important to discuss the issue if we are to confront it.
“There is a kind of perception that, when you speak about it, you might draw more abuse on you and that’s just a reality,” she said.
“As well, there is the knowledge that there are more important issues out there. Like I am talking about TDs not feeling safe in their homes but some people don’t have homes to not feel safe in.
“You don’t want to be talking about things and it seeming a bit rich but the reality is that our, kind of, collective silence on it means that, really, nothing is going to be done about it.
“Actually, it is something that does need to be addressed because, if I was somebody looking to get into politics, I think what would be more of a deterrent is probably the fact that nothing is being done about this situation, in reality, to really try and help it.”
"What is changing?"
The Cork TD said it is time to have a conversation about what is causing the increase in abuse and harassment in Irish society.
“I suppose we need to ask questions,” she said. “Is it that the kind of social media discourse we see is seeping out into real life.
“The, sort of, keyboard warriors who say things online that they wouldn’t say to somebody’s face are starting to actually see that as real life and how we behave in real life.
“Is it that people feel more angry than ever about politics because of housing, because of trolleys, you know, what is it that is changing and how do we address it?”
“What other things can be put in place to try and address the situation to try and understand it – I don’t think any of those things will happen if we don’t have the conversation about it."
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