Candidate with autism targeted with ‘shocking’ online abuse

An autistic general election candidate and her autistic children have been targeted by vile online abuse which branded them “inbred mongolians”.

Another sick online message suggested that if they “commit mass suicide”, it would free up resources for “the humans”.

Outspoken autism rights advocate, Fiona Pettit O’Leary, who has Aspergers, said she plans to report the series of horrific private Facebook messages to gardaí today.

But the West Cork-based mother-of-five — two of whom are on the autistic spectrum — vowed last night not to be silenced by the online abuse.

“I am a strong woman and I won’t be intimidated or bullied by these kinds of messages,” she said.

“I am not going to go into hiding and I won’t tone down what I’m saying.”

Ms O’Leary, who lives in Drimoleague, is a founder of the Autistic Rights Together organisation.

She has championed a range of autism rights and disability issues in recent years and is running as an independent candidate in Cork South West.

Ms O’Leary is campaigning primarily for equality for the autistic community, for those with a disability, for their families, and carers.

She has been subject to online abuse before from individuals linked to far- right political groups and to neo Nazi websites, but she said this is the first time such abuse has been targeted at her family.

She received the latest messages after posting a video on social media at the weekend warning against the rise in Ireland of anti- Islamic group Pegida, which staged a protest in Dublin on Saturday.

Several Pegida Ireland members are also members of Identity Ireland.

“I do not support parties like Identity Ireland and Pegida which I believe are a breeding ground for racism and discrimination,” she said.

A man she believes is linked to Pegida and Identity Ireland used Facebook to send four separate messages to her on Monday.

They read: “I looked at your pics. Quite the clan of inbred mongolians, aren’t ye?

“You know, if the lot of ye commit mass suicide, that will free up more resources for the humans.

“Holy Christ, you’re a fucking Dail candidate?.... your son is a candidate for viisection (sic), and that’s the painful truth, vivisection.

“You are s (sic) bog suicide waiting to happen.”

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Ms O’Leary described the Facebook messages as “shocking, intimidating, and upsetting”.

“I have never threatened or abused anyone in my life and as an autistic woman with autistic children I am very concerned about these threatening messages,” she said.

“The fact that they are also targeting my children is disgusting. I am going to the gardaí to report these messages.

“I just wanted to highlight what some of these far right extremists are like.

“It is terrible to see groups like this bring hate into society when we are trying to build bridges.”

Identity Ireland spokesman, Peter O’Loughlin, denied anyone associated with the group was involved.

“I would condemn this outright. Anyone who would do this in our name, or on our behalf, we would expel them.

“No decent person could stand over this kind of abuse,” he said.

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