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vax venom Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann receives threats from anti-vaxxers

The PSNI have urged the UUP MLA to review his security

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Minister for Health Robin Swann has received online abuse and threats (Peter Morrison/PA)

Minister for Health Robin Swann has received online abuse and threats (Peter Morrison/PA)

Minister for Health Robin Swann has received online abuse and threats (Peter Morrison/PA)

The Northern Ireland Health Minister has been contacted surrounding his safety by the PSNI as new threats have emerged online.

Robin Swann has been urged to review his personal security following the threats, it is understood.

During a briefing of the Stormont health committee today he said members of the anti-vaxxer community have increased in their “antagonism” towards him.

He said there was now a threat of “physical violence” towards himself as well as health workers.

Mr Swann has previously been on the receiving end of online abuse and threats.

He said: “What concerns me now is not just the level of opposition but it’s also now the level of threat of violence that is actually being insinuated and targeted against a number of people both working in the health department and also in the vaccination programme.”

He added that people should be allowed to voice their opposition to the vaccination programme, but that “when it moves into a sphere of physical threat of violence, it has gone too far”.

His UUP party leader, Doug Beattie, said social media giants need to do more to protect members of the public from online threats and abuse.

He said: “In the last few days, my friend and colleague Robin Swann has been contacted by the PSNI in relation to threats made against him and now has to review his security arrangements again.

"What sort of society are we becoming where Northern Ireland`s Health Minister is now having to deal with yet more threats and intimidation?”

“Not only is Robin Northern Ireland`s Health Minister, he is also a husband and a father.”

He added: "Be it Robin Swann, a nurse or domestic, a doctor or a porter, the NHS is a team top to bottom and a threat to one is a threat to all.

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“Robin Swann stepped up to take this job when others didn’t. I have seen up close his commitment and dedication to the NHS and its staff, and indeed the toll that the role has taken on him personally.

“Social media giants need to do an awful lot more to clamp down on online abuse and threats. Some things are more important than their profits.”

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