THE SDLP’s Westminster candidate, John Coyle has remained defiant despite what was roundly described as a poor performance during a live election TV debate on BBC’s The View last week.
Coyle, a current councillor on the Fermanagh and Omagh council, also hit out at ‘Twitter Trolls’, after a barrage of abuse came his way in the wake of his performance during Thursday night’s debate.
The debate was chaired by Mark Carruthers and also featured Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew, and the UUP’s Tom Elliott, who has recieved backing from both the DUP and the TUV.
An Alliance party spokesman confirmed that candidate Hannah Su was ‘unavailable’.
“I enjoyed it, like anybody that was my first live debate or programme and I did my best – that’s all I could have done,” Councillor Coyle told the Fermanagh Herald.
During the course of the programme, Coyle faced a barrage of criticism on social media: The Councillor referred to it as ‘bullying’, saying that it reminded him of bullying he faced at school.
“It’s been thrown up to me the past few weeks, the same things over and over again.
“When I was at school I would have been bullied, I never insult anybody, I don’t bully anybody. I take their opinions on and I respect their opinions.
“A lot of it was trying to belittle me, to make me feel like I shouldn’t be standing in an election.”
Asked if he was finding the election process tough, Cllr Coyle said: “No, I enjoy getting out canvassing, meeting people and doing jobs for people that ask me to do things. The only thing: The ‘trolling’ on Twitter that is the part of it [I find tough]. I don’t troll anybody on Twitter, why is it acceptable for me to be trolled?
“Would they have the guts to say it to my face? Do they have the b***s to go on live TV and do what I did?
“I was nervous, yes but that was my first time doing it – it’s human nature to be nervous.
“If you’re not used to doing something, it’s only with practice that you build confidence.”
Twitter users also questioned if Coyle had the full backing of his party, something that the Mulleek native rejected.
“I would dispute that, I had a press officer here all day yesterday, with me, preparing me.
“Joe Byrne MLA Omagh, I was with him on Wednesday for a few hours going over stuff, he was very supportive.
“I have got good comments and supportive texts and messages from party colleagues – they know what I am doing is right for Northern Ireland, and especially Fermanagh South Tyrone, to stand up for what I believe in.”
And despite the criticism the SDLP candidate said he was still in the fight to win the Westminster seat.
“I am going to carry on. I’m not going to give up. I will fight on to be the best MP that I can be when I get elected.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere