Today’s revelations about the activities and comments of a major online Sinn Féin supporter group reveal the chilling and sinister side of the party and their online trolls, the Leader of Seanad Éireann has said.
Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty said online death threats issued against Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar must be utterly condemned and such Facebook groups must be put out of operation.
Senator Doherty said, “Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and her party have failed to take any action on this issue despite it being repeatedly highlighted.
“There is a clear and open problem with the social media activities of some of her party’s representatives and supporters. This has been very apparent for some time and today’s Irish Times report confirms it.
“Sinn Féin’s online trolls operate without fear of recourse in a chilling and sinister manner. In folklore, trolls used to hide under bridges. In the real world, Sinn Féin’s brave troll battalion hide behind secret Facebook groups and anonymous twitter handles.
“This is a culture within Sinn Féin and the party saying they do not operate or oversee such groups is no defence.
“Quite simply, Sinn Féin are two faced and hypocritical. They are happy to accept this behaviour amongst their TDs and supporters.
“Just over a year ago, Deputy Martin Kenny said: ‘Sinn Féin will work to make the internet safer and to regulate those companies who must take responsibility for the actions of their users.’
“Today we learn Deputies Martin Kenny and Violet Anne Wynne only left the group this week after the Irish Times contacted Sinn Féin about it. Sinn Féin councillors are listed as members of the group.
“Why aren’t these public representatives calling people out for their comments? Why are they on such abusive and coarse social media groups? Why the need? It is because it is accepted behaviour within Sinn Féin.
“Homophobia, misogyny, bullying and online death threats are never acceptable. Encouraging and promoting shooting and cutting the throats of politicians is evil and repulsive. Yesterday, we only passed CoCos law to root out this kind of behaviour.
“Anyone who has been targeted by some Sinn Féin supporters online knows the type of language and abuse they keyboard warriors are capable of. This internal Facebook group is another confirmation of it.
“When abusive groups were brought to the attention of Sinn Féin by the Business Post last Summer, what happened? The group went secret. Sinn Féin did nothing.
“Online abuse from Sinn Féin supporter groups was raised with Deputy Eoin Ó Broin last August. What action did Sinn Féin take since? None.
“What action will Sinn Féin take now? Don’t hold your breath,” Senator Doherty concluded.