Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Deborah Erskine has called for an update on an online safety bill in Northern Ireland.

The issue of online safety and the protection of users online has been thrown into sharp focus over the weekend following a series of historic controversial tweets coming to light from Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie.

Mrs. Erskine, alongside many female politicians, has been the victim of online abuse and trolling in recent months, with others including Diane Dodds MLA who was targeted for particularly cruel abuse in recent weeks.

Asking Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill a question, Mrs. Erskine said: “In light of the publication of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report on Westminster’s Online Safety Bill, when such legislation will come into force in Northern Ireland, particularly because, as the Deputy First Minister will agree, the [general] language and discourse online is toxic.”

TIn response, the Deputy First Minister said: “The Member is right that that legislation has been published. Our officials are working on it. Department of Justice officials are keeping all Departments up to date on what it looks like and will mean for us here.”

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA pressed further, with Mrs Erskine asking: “In the meantime, what are you doing, Deputy First Minister, to address online abuse, particularly against women and, indeed, against women in the Chamber?”

Mrs O’Neill replied: “You are absolutely right about the need to stamp out online violence. We call on and will continue to call on social media companies to do the right thing. They have a moral and corporate responsibility to ensure that those who are engaged in misogyny, sexism, online abuse and threats are blocked from their services.

“We should not be subjected to that, sitting in our home whilst online, providing a public service and doing our job as an elected representative. None of us deserves to be abused in any way whatever.”