MINISTER Jan O’Sullivan has been targeted by online trolls spouting “sexist and misogynistic” abuse after she engaged in a row with a water charge protestor outside a Limerick shopping centre.
The education minister and Limerick Labour TD was referred to as a “f*****g champagne socialist”, after news of the argument outside the Grove Island Shopping Centre spread on Facebook.
“Jim Kemmy would be so ashamed of Jan right now,” another comment read.
Another person called Ms O’Sullivan a “scumbag b***h” and threatened to “throw her under a bus”.
There were further, even more offensive remarks, which this newspaper is not printing.
One reader who made contact with the Limerick Leader said: “This is hurtful, personalised misogyny which damages the cause of those protesting against the water charges.”
The Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) and ‘We Won’t Pay’ has condemned the “personalised” and “sexist” insults, and said it has since removed them from Facebook.
And Ms O’Sullivan for her part added: “I am going to completely ignore these comments. It says an awful lot more about the people who wrote them than it does about me. I am not going to get into a Facebook row – I speak to people’s faces.”
The Facebook ‘We Won’t Pay the Water Tax - Limerick’ page - which has over 3,000 ‘likes’ - carried an altered picture of Ms O’Sullivan with two puffs of steam coming from her ears, with a rundown of the Friday afternoon row from its point of view.
They claimed Ms O’Sullivan confronted two ‘We Won’t Pay’ activists who were holding an information stall on the footpath outside the Grove Island shopping centre.
“She then spent the next 30 minutes going into each shop complaining to the staff, before she returned visibly flustered to tell the activists that she would be making an official complaint,” the page read.
One of the activists - who did not wish to be named - said: “It was ridiculous to be honest. We are perfectly entitled to hand out leaflets and talk to our neighbours. It just shows how scared the Government are of mass non-payment.”
But the education minister said she felt entitled to complain about the action, claiming that the protesters were on the private grounds of the shopping centre and not on the street.
She said she approached security at the shopping centre to find if they had permission to operate on the private land.
“There was a bit of a conversation, let’s put it that way. We both raised our voices a bit,” Ms O’Sullivan told the Limerick Leader. “They were using megaphones which personally I found a bit intimidating.”
Ms O’Sullivan said her own party has sometimes been refused permission to leaflet at Grove Island.
“There are customers of all political viewpoints shopping there. People are entitled to hand out leaflets, but if we do anything, we need to get permission,” she concluded.