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'Hatchet' threat against MEP candidate to be examined --- Rabbitte

Labour senator Lorraine Higgins was told she would be “hatcheted in the face” during the recent European election campaign.

Image: Shutterstock

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER PAT Rabbitte has indicated that social media threats made against candidates in the course of the recent local and European elections will be followed-up by his Department and that of Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

He said that certain messages received by candidates in the campaign amounted to intimidation and harassment, and that neither were acceptable in a democratic society.

Labour senator Lorraine Higgins said in the wake of last month’s elections that she had been subjected to a Facebook death threat whereby someone told her she would be “hatcheted in the face”.

While not referring to the specifics of the case, Rabbitte said:

“A number of colleagues expressed the view that I or the Minister for Justice should take such steps that are open to us to see if we can identify the source for what some candidates put up with.

“I would like to think that some of it can be tracked and traced… Whether it can or not I don’t know. But obviously it would be great if it could, because I’m not talking about casual commentary by someone who’s angry at a particular measure, I’m talking about a selection of treatment that’s not acceptable.”

Senator Higgins has already made a complaint about the comments to gardaí.

She said that while she could not be sure of the source of the threats, the person making them was “certainly” a supporter of an independent candidate and Sinn Féin — charges categorically rejected by Sinn Féin.

Referring to the source of the comments, Rabbitte said that while “colleagues have views on that… Views are not good enough”.

“I think it would be foolish of me to say I can put my finger directly on the source.”

The Minister was speaking at the launch of a new report setting out a range of recommendations for how the Government should deal with the threat of online bullying.

It includes a proposal to update legislation to include ‘electronic communications’ within the definition of measures dealing with “the sending of messages which are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing”.

Read: Primary school kids MUST be taught the dangers of cyber-bullying, Govt advised

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