WESTLIFE singer Mark Feehily has revealed how he suffered years of abuse on Twitter.
The 31-year-old claims the online threats he has received are of such a serious nature that the perpetrators “would be in jail’ had they made the same comments to his face.
But even boyband star Mr Feehily found that his attempts to contact Twitter about the threats led nowhere.
Launching an anti-bullying week yesterday on behalf of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), the Sligo man said the abuse had not only been aimed at him, but at friends and family as well.
“I’m not talking about people saying your music is crap. I’m talking about proper abuse. I can’t go into what they said but some of the things that have been said to me on Twitter, if someone walked up to me on the street and said them to me… they would be in jail,” Mr Feehily told the Irish Independent.
But the songwriter and boyband star, who came out in 2007, revealed his attempts to contact Twitter to report the abuse had been unsuccessful.
“I have tried at different levels to report it and got nothing back,” he said.
The boyband star added: “The social network online has exploded. I’ve experienced sick people on Twitter who hide behind a fake profile name.
“I believe there is a high level of tolerance about it and people are getting away with all sorts of things.
“The people at the top of the ladder in Twitter have to take responsibility. They have this social platform but they need to monitor it,” he added.
“There needs to be the ability for people to report incidents, and for something to actually be done about it when you report an incident,” said Mr Feehily, who has previously spoken about his experience of bullying at school in Sligo.
To mark the week which runs from April 23-30, the ISPCC is urging people to join the fight against bullying and child abuse by wearing the ISPCC shield. A dedicated bullying support line has also been set up on 1800 666677 which will be available 24 hours a day for the week.
Launching the ISPCC shield with ‘Voice Of Ireland’ contestant Kiera Byrne and ISPCC head Ashley Balbirnie, Mr Feehily made one of his first public appearances since splitting up from fiance Kevin McDaid at Christmas.
He looked visibly moved when asked how he was coping with the end of the seven-year relationship.
“It was my first major relationship and my first break-up. I’m dealing with it quite well but I wouldn’t lie and say it was easy but at the same time, these things happen in life.
“I think any break-up is difficult — it’s still very fresh for me.
“Just like everybody you take every day as it comes and when you’re faced with a challenge in life you can either let it consume you or you can stand up and try and learn and grow as a person and move on,” he said.
Mr Feehily met Mr McDaid, who is from Newcastle in the UK, and then a member of boyband V, at a charity concert in Dublin in 2005, and they announced their engagement in January 2010.