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'world we live in' TD blames social media for backlash after 'situational awareness' tweet to woman harassed in public

Matt Shanahan tweeted “situational awareness vital and should also be taught” in response to a woman who shared her experience of being harassed in Dublin

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Matt Shanahan

Matt Shanahan

Matt Shanahan

An independent TD has blamed social media after receiving backlash after tweeting about “situational awareness” to a woman who was harassed in a public park.

Waterford TD Matt Shanahan tweeted that “situational awareness vital and should also be taught” in response to a woman who shared her experience of being harassed in Blackrock Park in Dublin in what she said was a “terrifying experience”.

“I often see girls walking alone at night while on phones in places I wouldn’t like my 15-stone [sic] ripped nephew to be - situational awareness vital and also should be taught. Sorry to hear this happened in what should be a safe space - not all men are monsters!” he wrote.

The TD received social media backlash and was accused of “victim blaming”, with the woman later replying to the TD saying that she hopes “that our representatives have a more nuanced understanding of gender-based harassment than this”.

"I made no comment about all men, so I am not sure where that came from,” she said.

When contacted by Independent.ie, Deputy Shanahan blamed social media and said that users “twist things around to mean something that others never meant to mean”.

“I’m not going to make any further comment because to be quite frank about it, it’s obvious that people have gone a different direction,” he said.

“I said what I said at the start, which was based [on] the protection that I’m absolutely all for, the protection and the security of people. Other people are trying to make out something else so I’m not going to add further fuel to the fire.”

He declined to clarify what he meant by “situational awareness”.

“Look, this is social media and people can twist things around to mean something that others never meant to mean,” the TD said.

“What I was trying to speak about was people, I suppose, security. And people doing as much as they can for their own security and it was meant in the most benevolent way possible.

"I wasn’t making any judgement on anybody, but people obviously think I was, I certainly was not.”

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Mr Shanahan said he has two daughters who he often reminds to be careful of where they go and who is around them because “that’s the world we live in”.

“I have two young daughters myself and I speak to them the whole time about trying to be careful about where you go, being aware of who’s around you, who’s in your environment as much as you possibly can, because unfortunately, that’s the world we live in,” he said.

Deputy Shanahan said it was unfortunate that “you can barely make a comment now” on social media.

“I think it’s unfortunate that this is where social media is going at this stage but you know, you can barely make a comment now when you’re accused of things that you didn’t even say them,” he said.

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