Alliance calls for positive political campaigning

Alliance Party leader on Belfast City Council, Michael Long, has put forward a motion for the meeting on Monday 2 December calling for positive political campaigning.

Councillor Long said: “The election campaign to date has largely been positive, but there have been instances of direct and online abuse directed at candidates, election posters removed and inflammatory banners erected naming candidates.


“As elected representatives, we have a duty to calm situations at times of tension. My motion for Council, seconded by the Green Party, aims to make it a positive campaign where the public can trust what they see and read, and candidates do not feel threatened.


“There is also a responsibility on the social media companies to act swiftly when examples of abuse are brought to their attention. Online trolls need to be aware that they can be traced and the police will take action where necessary.


“This is one of the most important elections in many years and we need to protect the democratic process.”


The Motion reads: ‘This Council notes the increasing level of personal abuse, intimidation, smear campaigns and false information directed towards political representatives and activists particularly during election campaigns.


‘We further note the number of politicians, and especially women, citing social media abuse and intimidation as a reason for leaving politics.


‘As Councillors we pledge to use social media responsibly, to promote our policies positively and to engage in debate respectfully.


‘We call on social media companies to also act responsibly and proactively to ensure that their platforms are not abused in this way, end account anonymity and to cooperate with the PSNI swiftly where such abuse meets the threshold for a criminal investigation. ‘