Northern Ireland

SDLP candidate Cara Hunter ‘won’t be bullied’ party insists after ‘disturbing’ online abuse

East Derry candidate has faced a ‘pile-on’ over running in constituency, party colleagues say

SDLP MLA Cara Hunter has condemned an attack on two couples in Portrush.
SDLP East Derry candidate Cara Hunter, who finished third in last Thursday's race for the Westminster seat.

The SDLP has condemned social media abuse against its East Derry candidate Cara Hunter as a “disturbing pile-on”.

Ms Hunter finished third behind Sinn Féin runner-up Kathleen McGurk, who was just 179 votes behind DUP winner Gregory Campbell.

The SDLP has said Ms Hunter has been a target for abuse as a result of standing for what is now a marginal seat.

She has previously spoken out about facing online abuse, which began when she was first elected as a Derry City and Strabane councillor in 2019.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said in a social media post that his colleague was “an excellent young politician who cares deeply about people”.

“The abuse levelled at her is a disgrace. She won’t be bullied and neither will our party,” he said.

Sinn Féin stood aside in four constituencies to allow “progressive parties” to win, including South Belfast and Mid Down, which was held by the SDLP’s Claire Hanna.

Mr Eastwood said “no approach was made” to his party about standing aside in East Derry to ensure a Sinn Féin win.

Ms Hanna meanwhile, condemned the abuse her colleague has endured while speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show.

“There has been a really disturbing pile-on on Cara Hunter for having the temerity to stand in that seat,” she said.

South Belfast and Mid Down MP Claire Hanna speaking on BBC;s Sunday Politics show.
South Belfast and Mid Down MP Claire Hanna speaking on BBC;s Sunday Politics show.

“She has been called a west Brit, a quisling, an ‘uncle Tom’, and lots of other deeply sectarian language in large volumes.”

On the same show, Sinn Féin North Belfast MP John Finucane, when asked to comment on the issue, said: “If there is any abuse targeting people personally, then there is no place for that, no matter what the circumstances are.”