'If I had a euro for every time I've been called the 'c word' in the last month...'

Some of the country's highest-profile women TDs who lost their seat in the General Election have revealed the depth of the explicit and hurtful messages sent to them in recent weeks.

'If I had a euro for every time I've been called the 'c word' in the last month...'

Some of the country's highest-profile women TDs who lost their seat in the General Election have revealed the depth of the explicit and hurtful messages sent to them in recent weeks.

Fianna Fail's Lisa Chambers said even her pregnancy had been used against her during the campaign, while Regina Doherty said some of the attacks were very personal.

Another woman TD who lost her seat, Labour's Jan O'Sullivan, expressed concern at the level of abuse thrown at female politicians and said young people were often experiencing the same.

All three, along with Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, were on RTÉ Radio One's Sunday With Miriam programme. All bar Ms Chambers ruled out running for election in the future.

Regina Doherty said she felt "numb" after losing her seat in Meath but said of the abuse received by women politicians: "I think we get more grief, I think we get more stick. You definitely get more abuse. Now the lads get loads of abuse too but I think our abuse is very personal.

"If I had a euro for every time I've been called the 'c word' in the last month I wouldn't need to retire. I've been witness to a number of emails ... from people who would have been pro-life gleefully telling me that that's the reason I lost my seat.

"No it's not, there's buckets of reasons why I lost my seat and we won't pinpoint any one of them but for somebody to be so base as to actually put pen to paper in an email and send you their wilful gleeness because of a particular issue, I don't know what the world is coming to, to be honest with you."

She also referred to

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"I know politicians don't have the best regard by the Irish people but we do work hard, and ... probably to the expense of going out and doing what would be vote-getting, whether it's knocking on doors or doing popular things.

"I didn't get into politics to do popular things, I got into politics to do the stuff that I think mattered."

Lisa Chambers
Lisa Chambers

Lisa Chambers said she knew in advance of the election count she was at risk of losing her seat and regarding online abuse, she said: "Oh God, yes - it was quite intensive.

"All politicians get abuse but I do think there is a different level for female politicians, it's a lot more personalised, it's a lot more based on the tone of your voice, the colour of your hair, how you're dressed.

"I'm pregnant currently so that was coming up a little bit as well, 'oh, she's taking maternity leave, no point in electing her', so there is an extra level. You have to be so careful about how you come across because being assertive for a woman is often being bossy or aggressive or whiny."

Presenter Miriam O'Callaghasn referred to the "bile" that was tweeted even about having the four women on as guests and added: "the level of nastiness out there is extraordinary".

Ms Chambers, who said she is due to give birth in April, said "online, faceless, nameless individuals" were typically to blame but added that the media also needed to be involved in a mature conversation about how women politicians are portrayed.

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