Green Party Councillor Erika Doyle has urged people in Wicklow to show zero tolerance to hate speech and graffiti and report it when they encounter it. She also urged elected representatives to take responsibility for unacceptable comments left on their social media pages by supporters as these are being used as ‘channels of hate’.
“Last weekend there was an unprecedented amount of racist and homophobic graffiti scrawled all across Bray. It was directly targeted at minority groups and is much more worrying than the usual random graffiti tags we are used to seeing. One unfortunate man had his car sprayed with racist graffiti. The removal of this graffiti is costly for the council and could be better used elsewhere.
“Hate speech can be overt or more subtle. It can be directed against people of colour, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, travellers, women, basically any section of society that triggers the fearful far right. Lacking confidence in their own worth, they lash out at any minority that they feel threatens their status quo. Very often these are the same individuals and groups that pedal harmful conspiracy theories. The danger is that with repeated outings of these views, they enter the mainstream and young or vulnerable people can be radicalised or indoctrinated. That is why we must call it out and address it when we see it.
“Elected reps too have a responsibility to address the language used on their own social media pages. Some of the comments left on reps Facebook pages is appalling. This doesn’t happen by accident, it’s a tactic of a cowardly politician. They are too afraid to voice these opinions themselves as they know most modern political parties in Ireland would find them abhorrent yet they know there are votes to be had in being seen to tacitly support these issues. They post a comment about a contentious issue, knowing they are lighting a touch paper. They then sit back and watch the disgusting comments roll in, about members of minorities or other politicians, delighted that these views are being expressed without having to state them themselves. The fact that they refuse to moderate their pages and address the hate speech on them while claiming to care for the vulnerable and oppressed is frankly laughable.”
Councillor Doyle said that misogyny is also rife on social media, and most female politicians and public figures come to regard it as part of the job.
“In my arena working in politics, I regularly receive gender based abuse. I have no issue with a political difference of opinion, debate is healthy, but that’s not what this is about.
Councillor Doyle continued, “I want these bigots to know that we will not stand for this.
The people of Bray and Wicklow are by and large welcoming and supportive to all communities and we will not allow these toxic individuals spread their fear.”
Councillor Doyle added that she is organising an anti-hate event where people can show their support of minority communities, and stand together against hate speech of all kinds.