Labour senator a victim of ‘vile’ online attack over water charge stance

Lorraine Higgins: Supporters of Irish Water are being gagged.

A Labour senator has claimed that supporters of the water charges have effectively been gagged from expressing their view.

She said that a protester made an online threat to “rip my head from my shoulders and shove it where the sun don’t shine” because of her stance on the issue.

Lorraine Higgins made the claims as the Right2Water campaign insisted it is opposed to any such abuse and that “anyone who’s not going to be peaceful” should stay away from the movement.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Ms Higgins said she had contacted gardaí in recent weeks after being subjected to the “vile” attack via her personal Facebook account.

It is not the first time the Galway-based senator has been subjected to online tirades. Last November, she was told by a commenter that she was a whore and “should have been aborted”.

Ms Higgins said she had received more online abuse this month after making further comments in favour of Irish Water.

Ms Higgins said an unidentified man had sent a message to her personal Facebook account that said she was a “poxy, traitorous, two-faced, money-grabbing, bimbo bitch”.

Ms Higgins, said the comment, which included a threat to “rip my head from my shoulders and shove it where the sun don’t shine”, resulted in gardaí recommending she increase security in the run-up to the general election early next year.

“I think it’s plausible to assume the threat resulted from that contribution on Prime Time [when Ms Higgins said protesters were arrested for stopping people doing their job and breaking the law]. It’s unfortunate that they’re allowed to have a position, but I’m not allowed to articulate mine,” she said.

“I respect everybody’s argument against water charges and what not, but I was making a legitimate point.”

News of the abuse came on the same day as the Right2Water campaign launched its latest national day of protest, which takes place in Dublin tomorrow.

Reacting to Ms Higgins’s claims, campaigner and Independent TD Joan Collins said protesters are opposed to “anybody using vile abuse” and “I would ask anybody doing that to stop”.

Ms Collins said there is “no culture of arrest” in the campaign and insisted people “are not going on the streets looking for trouble”.

Her comments were supported by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett who, despite suggesting any violence associated with the wider water charge protests had been “over-sensationalised” insisted anyone “who’s not going to be peaceful should stay away”.

He said tomorrow’s rally will be “family friendly” and asked people to bring “their granny, kids, buggies”.

The latest figures show some 990,000 households have registered with Irish Water out of a 1.5m customer base.

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