A 25 year-old man has been arrested for allegedly sending out a tweet that referred to Minister Pat Rabbitte as a “rabbit”.
The man was arrested this afternoon and held at PortLaoise Garda Station under the government’s recent clampdown on cyberbullying.
The man defended the tweet, and pleaded that he thought the minister’s surname was ‘Rabbit’ and not ‘Rabbitte’.
The tweet read: “Pat Rabbit’s [sic] broken promises are the exact thing he would be raging about if he were in opposition”.
The subtle refererence to Minister Rabbitte as a ‘rabbit’ can be used as grounds for defamation of charactar and online bullying.
Minister Rabbitte responded saying that this behavior was typical of current climate of personalised attacks towards government representatives.
“The fact that someone would compare an elected minister to an animal is typical of the sort of negativity and harmful attacks directed at government representatives online.”
“I’m just glad that these people are being made accountable for their actions and aren’t being able to openly harass public figures under the cloak of anonymity.”
The social media network Twitter have also been criticised for allowing such harmful messages to become public on their website.
A Gardai spokesperson said that they took “swift decisive action” in order to prevent any more abusive posts appearing on the website.
“All offenders must be dealt with within the framework of the Irish Legal System and decisions in relation to their disposal take into consideration a number of factors”.
“The circumstances may warrant the recipient with a caution or a suspended jail sentence, but no final decision has been made about what punishment will be given to the offender”.