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Cyberflashing ordeal Gardai arrest man suspected of sending lewd photos to Limerick councillor Elisa O'Donovan

She made a complaint to gardaí that she received an unsolicited picture message of an “erect penis” via WhatsApp, on May 1st.

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Cllr Elisa O’Donovan Pic Twitter

Cllr Elisa O’Donovan Pic Twitter

Cllr Elisa O’Donovan Pic Twitter

Gardaí are preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions, following the arrest of a man suspected of harassing a Limerick politician by sending her lewd photographs via social media.

Last month, Elisa O’Donovan, an elected representative on Limerick City and Council, made a complaint to gardaí that she received an unsolicited picture message of an “erect penis” via WhatsApp, on May 1st.

Cllr O’Donovan had tweeted an edited photograph of a male and said: “Today was the start of my holidays and some recharge time.

"Unfortunately my day started with a WhatsApp message sent to my phone of a picture of an erect penis.”

“This is incredibly intrusive. Cyberflashing is an act of sexual violence and it shouldn’t be acceptable. This is disgusting...don’t send unsolicited sexual images to people you do not know. I am reporting this to the guards,” she added.

Cllr O’Donovan, who was first elected to the Council in 2019 as a Social Democrats candidate, said similar incidents had “been happening since I got elected really, but I’ve only started highlighting it this year as ignoring it doesn’t make it stop”.

“Reported to @gardainfo this morning. As always in Henry Street garda station they were very supportive and took this very seriously, and they are following it up. The poor garda must be withered from me at this stage,” she added.

On May 7th, Cllr O’Donovan tweeted: “I will never apologise for using my platform as an elected rep to highlight the sexual violence women are exposed to. The only way we change things for the next generation is by highlighting cyberflashing and saying it is wrong and unacceptable.”

Gardaí have confirmed they arrested a man in his 30s this week as part of their ongoing investigations into Cllr O’Donovan’s complaint.

In response to a query from this reporter, a garda spokesman said: “A man in his late 30s has been arrested in connection with the alleged online harassment of a public representative in County Limerick.”

“The man was detained at Henry Street Garda Station. He has since been released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions,” added the garda spokesman.

Cllr O’Donovan confirmed via Twitter that she has been “notified by @gardainfo that an individual has been arrested in relation to this cyberflashing incident."

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“I am very grateful for all their hard work, I hope this action sends a strong message to others that cyberflashing is sexual harassment and is wrong,” she added.

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