Diane Dodds: Mocking my son’s death is beyond belief

DUP MLA Diane Dodds has branded the person who mocked the death of her son as “beyond belief”.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 6:00 am

Mrs Dodds had issued a message on Twitter last week to wish her followers a happy new year. However, an anonymous troll responded with an abusive response about her son, Andrew, who had spina bifida and died in 1998, aged eight.

Last night Mrs Dodds, who is married to DUP peer Nigel, thanked everyone who offered her support after the abuse.

“I want to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all people who have been in touch either personally, via email or social media after the vile abuse on Twitter on New Year’s Eve,” she said. “Our son Andrew was so loved by Nigel and I, his family and friends and is sorely missed. For someone to maliciously mock his death in this callous way is almost beyond belief.

Andrew Dodds, who died in 1998, pictured with his parents Nigel and Diane Dodds

“Both Nigel and I have taken great comfort from the many messages of support we have received and the wealth of kindness that has been shown to us.

“What was meant to cause great harm has resulted in a swell of revulsion for the malicious intent behind such an action. I can only say it has been very much appreciated.”

This is not the first time people in the public sphere have been targeted in such a manner, she said.

“I have been contacted by others who have been the subject of abuse – other politicians, journalists and innocent victims of terrorism. We simply cannot allow social media platforms, and those who can operate under the cloak of anonymity within that sphere, to continue to abuse and traumatise people who are simply doing their job or who have a different point of view.

She added: “It is appalling that despite this tweet and the account behind it being reported by many people, Twitter itself found it did not breach its standards. If this tweet didn’t do that then there is something fundamentally wrong about the way social media companies operate.”

She has asked the PSNI to investigate.

“I thank them for their efforts so far and I hope that they will be able to shed light in this dark world of abuse and harassment and bring those responsible to justice.”

It is not the first time that malicious efforts have been made to target the couple using their son, Andrew.

In 1996 two IRA gunmen attacked the couple in the Royal Victoria Hospital while they spoke with Andrew’s doctor. Their son was lying ill in the hospital. Their bodyguard was injured in the attack after challenging the two men.

However the gunmen fled and the couple were not hurt.

In August a former NATO intelligence Colonel told the News Letter that he believes that politicians, journalists and terror victims in NI may have been subjected to organised online attacks by eastern European cyber gangs paid by local paramilitaries.

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