Police closing in on Dodds abuser

Both the PSNI and the Garda have declined to comment on reports that the person being sought in connection with the online abuse of Diane Dodds resides in the Republic.

Monday, 10th January 2022, 8:03 am
Diane Dodds MLA

The DUP MLA was targeted after posting a picture a New Year’s Eve message to her Twitter followers.

An anonymous user replied with an abusive response by making reference to her late son Andrew.

Andrew was born with spina bifida and died in 1998 just before his ninth birthday.

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Mrs Dodds and a number of other Twitter users made repeated complaints that the abusive account was still active a full week after the highly offensive post.

The account, which has a long history of posting abusive comments, has since been suspended.

Although initially telling complainants that the offending message did not breach its online safety policies, three days later the social media sent each one a message stating: “Thanks again for letting us know. Our investigation found this account violated Twitter rules.”

At the time Mrs Dodds, who husband Nigel is a former DUP MP for North Belfast, said: “Twitter have finally lived up to their responsibilities and suspended the account which had dedicated itself to vile and depraved online attacks.

“I have been truly humbled and touched by the groundswell of support and encouragement from across Northern Ireland and I have no doubt that the universal revulsion at these disgraceful actions forced Twitter to act.”

Mrs Dodds added: “This episode must be a catalyst for change in protecting online users from those fuelled by hate. Twitter must take swift and decisive action to cooperate with the police to bring such individuals to justice and implement safeguarding policies.”

Officers from the PSNI recorded a statement of complaint from Mrs Dodds and one other person targeted by the same Twitter troll, Sammy Heenan, at her office on Tuesday.

Mr Heenan had been repeatedly mocked by the same anonymous Twitter user over the death of his father William at the hands of the IRA – at the family farm near Castlewellan – in 1985.

In response to a News Letter request for comment yesterday, a PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police routinely work together with police services in other jurisdictions when required.

“Investigations remain ongoing and we are unable to offer any further comment at this time.”

An Garda Síochána declined to comment.