Belfast City Council is to press social media companies to better address incidents of misogynistic or sexist abuse online, with Alliance Councillor Sian O’Neill set to raise the issue on Tuesday night.
The Councillor for East Belfast said the Council must lead by example, calling out the failings of companies including Facebook and Twitter after a number of incidents involving prominent female politicians in Northern Ireland.
Councillor Sian O’Neill said: “As a female representative for the people of East Belfast, I’m here to make my voice heard and advocate for my constituents. Unfortunately, whilst fulfilling this role, I have been on the receiving end of misogynistic abuse that would simply never have been targeted at my male counterparts. We cannot allow the voices of female representatives to be shouted down by those skulking behind a hidden identity on social media.
“In recent weeks we have witnessed how cruel and demeaning social media can be, with insults and criticism aimed at embarrassing and shaming elected representatives – enough is enough.
“As a Council we owe it to everyone across Belfast to stand up to this kind of behaviour and to send a strong signal ensuring female leaders today and those of tomorrow are able to express themselves freely on social media platforms without fear of attack.
“I plan to refer this motion to the relevant committee within Belfast City Council to assess what more we can do as an organisation, not only to equip all our elected representatives with the tools needed to engage effectively on social media, but also how to build resilience when they receive targeted abuse.”