Welsh Govt minister to take break from social media following torrent of online abuse
A Welsh Government minister has said he will take a break from social media during the Senedd summer recess after suffering a torrent of threatening and abusive comments online.
The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters has faced increasing harassment online and in person since the announcement that the UK Home Office plans to house asylum seekers at a hotel in his constituency.
This week, anti immigrant groups and local residents have gathered outside Llanelli’s Stradey Park Hotel to protest against the arrival of around 200 asylum seekers.
On Sunday, police were called to the hotel and a number of arrests were made during a demonstration there – some protesters still remain camped outside the hotel on today.
Last week, Carmarthenshire County Council lost a bid for a High Court injunction to temporarily block the Home Office’s plans.
Today, Mr Waters published a social media post which included a screen grab of a comment sent to him via Facebook.
The commenter wrote: “He won’t really care until one of his family members are assaulted or his house targeted like the French politicians. You reap what you sow Mr Waters.”
Alongside the screen grab the Labour MS wrote: “I’m going to take a break from social media over the summer.
“Messages like the one below is one of the reasons why I will not be joining protests outside the hotel.
“Nia [Griffith MP] and I are continuing to press the Home Office to rethink. Me and my team will continue to work hard and you can email me on [email protected].”
In another post on Twitter, Mr Waters said: “End of term tomorrow. I’m sure I remember my school reports being more mixed than this?”
Alongside the tweet was a screen grab which included a number of abusive comments left on his Facebook page – one of which described him as “the most hated t*** in Wales”.
Another comment read: “Nobody likes you because you’re full of s***”.
Mr Waters has said that he thinks the the hotel is the “wrong site and the wrong plan” and that the responsibility “lies solely with the UK Government”.
The Llanelli MS has been using his social media accounts to discuss concerns with locals and answer questions from his constituents about the plans for the hotel.
The deputy minister for climate change said that any protest should not be in Llanelli, but instead be held “outside the Home Office in London”.
In May, Mr Waters announced he would begin blocking some accounts on Facebook because he was being treated as a “punchbag” by other social media users.
In June, a video circulated online of the Welsh Government minister being harassed in the street by a former organiser of a far-right political party who appeared to be unhappy with the UK Government’s plans for the Llanelli Hotel.
The altercation happened whilst Mr Waters knocked on doors in Llanelli to discuss concerns about the hotel with locals – he told Nation.Cymru the incident had “shaken” him.
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