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Social media has increased anger and hatred towards politicians, say Harney and Coughlan

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Social media has increased the level of abuse against politicians, said two former Tánaistí.

Mary Harney and Mary Coughlan spoke at MacGill Summer School, which is virtual in its sophomore year. Both said that an acceptable level of abuse was set in connection with the financial crash that Ms. Coughlan was a tánaist in.

However, both said that in the age of social media, the situation has gotten much worse.

Ms. Harney said she recently spoke to a female TD about the abuse she is enduring.

“I spoke to a young TD and asked her about her experience and she said, ‘You have no idea how bad it is.

People talk about how she looks and how she speaks, and it’s never about what she said. She said – and I can attest to this as this has been my experience – it has had a terrible impact on her family, loved ones, her parents.

“And I had the same. My mom used to get so upset and that was more likely to happen on traditional media than on social media.

“I think what is happening to social media is really worrying. I left politics before social media took hold. I think I would have found it very difficult to act in the current social media environment, honestly. “

Ms. Harney said she was in favor of regulating social media not just in Ireland but around the world.

“Terrible Abuse”

Ms. Coughlan said she had “had terrible abuse”.

“If you think back, people wouldn’t tolerate it now,” she said.

“I see that the abuse has gotten worse now because of social media. The vitriol is terrible, absolutely desperate. Politicians are considered fair game, they have no right to express their opinion and must not make mistakes. It really affects people and especially families, especially when you have children.

It’s very hard for people to be in public life at the best of times, but all of that on top of what you’re doing is just absolutely terrible and shows a really gross side of public life that is really unacceptable. “

Both Ms. Harney and Ms. Coughlan said traditional media was difficult to deal with, and Ms. Coughlan said newspapers had been banned from their home.

“I was a married woman with two young children and my late husband was just apoplectic about the impact it would have on the children and the family. We didn’t have that much social media back then. The vitriol is terrible, it’s desperate, and it’s not only here but in other countries, the UK and the US, where politicians are considered fair game. “

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