The daughter of tragic Irish politician Shane McEntee has refuted claims that cyber bullying led her father to take his own life.
Helen McEntee spoke as she campaigns to win the by-election caused by her father’s shock death in January.
McEntee told the paper that online abuse and text messages were not the cause of her father’s death despite attacks by his brother Gerry at the funeral on the ‘faceless cowards’ who sent the junior minister abusive online and text messages.
She said: “I know there was a lot of stuff came out after Dad’s funeral. ‘Did Cyber-Bullying Kill Shane McEntee’ was one headline. As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t.
"He was eight years in politics and it was not in the last three months that people started to attack politicians and have a go. It’s always been there.”
“I do think it’s got a bit nastier in the last year or so. I’m not making a generalisation on everyone, but some people are taking their frustrations out on politicians - and I don’t think that is fair.
“But Dad didn’t use Twitter and wasn’t a huge fan of Facebook. So I don’t think you can blame that and I’m not going to start a campaign on that.
“That’s not what I’m focusing on, it’s not an issue to the forefront of my priorities.”
An economics, politics and law graduate, McEntee revealed that she always intended to run for the Dail in future but took the plunge now because of the backing she got.
She admitted: “The thought terrified me initially because it was something I would have thought about down the line.
“There may be an element of a sympathy vote but we are not playing on that.
“People were loyal to Dad and that is to be admired. But we live in a democracy and people are not going to vote for me based on that alone. They want to know what I’m about, to see what I can do.
“I don’t want voters to think ‘she’s a McEntee, she’s doing it for this or that reason’. I want to represent people. My family are proud of me and I think Dad would be too.”
She also admitted that the new property tax is causing difficulties for the government candidates in the Meath by-election.
McEntee added: “Government has to make tough decisions. We promised we wouldn’t raise income tax and we haven’t.”