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18 Aug 2022

Offaly Minister's property damaged and protests threatened at her home

Offaly councillor says Climate Action Plan does little for problems in agriculture

Minister of State Pippa Hackett

OFFALY Senator and Junior Minister Pippa Hackett has revealed that opponents have damaged her property and threatened to mount protests at her home.

The Green Party representative said the damage occurred in recent weeks and she has reported it to the gardai.

Senator Hackett, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for land use and biodiversity, said she believes female politicians in particular are being targeted.

In an interview with the Tribune in advance of International Women's Day on March 8, Senator Hackett said politics is more challenging for women than men.

“I’ve done many different things throughout my life, from studying, working in all sorts of different jobs, academia, and now politics - and it is certainly the most challenging in this respect,” she said.

“The demands of the job, the public facing aspect of it, the expectations, and unfortunately the nastiness that now seems endemic amongst some in society.

“While all of this applies to both male and female politicians, the personalisation towards female politicians in particular is concerning.”

She said social media is fuelling abuse: “While people might think that a couple of flippant comments on a Facebook post might do no harm, what people must understand is that those comments have the potential to motivate others to make more perverse comments, which in turn may incite other people into action.”

“I myself have had threats to protest at my home, offensive comments made about my family, and my property has been damaged in recent weeks, which I reported to the police.”

In a reference to security fencing being erected at the residence of Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, she said it is “not good when you hear of politicians having to put up barriers around their homes, or have police checking things are safe”.

“I see people from my local area, people I know well, having direct pops at me or my colleagues on social media. You have to wonder about their motivations.”

Senator Hackett, who runs an organic farm near Geashill with her husband Mark, added: “It’s all a big laugh of course, until someone is hurt – physically or psychologically. Yes, there is certainly a populist element to it all, but it is concerning nonetheless that some people are oblivious to the harm they might be causing.”

Some of the abusive comments on social media have come from people who are campaigning against any proposals to ban turf cutting.

The Green Party minister has said the consultation on regulations around solid fuels currently under way is not designed to prohibit domestic cutting.

Senator Hackett, a native of Co Mayo and mother of four, was elected to Offaly County Council in the Edenderry Electoral Area in 2019 and then won a seat in the Seanad in an uncontested by-election.

She finished sixth in the Laois-Offaly five-seat constituency in the last general election and then retained her Seanad seat.

She was appointed a 'super junior' minister when the current Government was formed last year, giving her a seat, but not a vote, at the cabinet table.

Her husband Mark was co-opted to her seat on Offaly County Council.

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