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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 29 November, 2014

Local election candidate subjected to ‘vile abuse’ for being pregnant

Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford says the abuse shows why women are discouraged from entering politics.

Clifford received the email last night.
Clifford received the email last night.

Updated 11pm

A LOCAL ELECTION candidate was told she was being “devilishly clever” and accused of corruption because she is pregnant.

Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford says that she received the abuse in an email from a member of the public last night but has also been subjected to “smart comments” about her pregnancy from some of her party colleagues.

Clifford, a candidate in the Pembroke-South Dock constituency in Dublin, says that the first email she received from the man referred to her as “dirty lowlife scum”.

“The email went on to say that I should ‘go to the gym’ and that I should ‘get my roots done’,” she told TheJournal.ie today.

Clifford said she responded to the man telling him that she would not be ‘going to the gym’ because she is five months pregnant:

I then got a reply late last night saying that I was being ‘devilishly smart’ for the timing of my pregnancy and that ‘us poor suckers would end up paying for it’. The email said that this was an example of ‘typical Fianna Fáil corruption’.

 

Clifford, who is a trained solicitor and works full-time in her own law practice, says that the email is an example of the kind of sexist attitude women politicians have to put up with, adding that such attitudes needs to be called out.

“I don’t think a man’s appearance, a man’s family status would be subject to any of this kind of vile abuse. It’s this kind of rubbish that puts women off from putting themselves forward,” she says.

Clifford says that Fianna Fáil have been overwhelmingly supportive of her pregnancy and that both the party leader and chairman were delighted upon hearing the news.

Despite this, she says she has been subjected to some “smart comments” from some party members who have made reference to her pregnancy, questioning her commitment and even if her candidacy was healthy for the baby.

“Even when I got engaged last Summer there were some people who were in a sense writing me off, saying things like ‘you’re going to be caught up now choosing flowers and that’. Basically just trying to put me off.”

“There has to be a shift in attitudes in regards to women, ” Clifford says, adding that as a woman who is working and starting a family, she is able to empathise with the many people who have to do the same.

“If you rule out that cohort of the population, that’s a lot of people of that age who could become involved in politics.”

First published 4.12pm

Read: Mary Lou McDonald says she ‘has what it takes’ to be Sinn Féin’s next leader >

Read: Dublin Councillor calls for 50% of seats to go to women in local elections >

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