Sacked columnist calls Sinn Fein a ‘malign force on this island’ as he refuses to apologise over Twitter saga
Former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris has said that he has a ‘genuine deep conviction’ that Sinn Fein are a ‘malign force on this island’ after the anonymous Twitter account saga.
The writer and ex-Senator was fired from the paper on Thursday after management learned he was contributing to an account behind a fake name.
Twitter has since suspended nine accounts that it believes are linked to Mr Harris, which he denies being a part of.
The Barbara Pym account, which the 79-year-old claims is run by five or six people, has been highly criticised for posting derogatory tweets about Sinn Fein and national journalists.
Speaking to RTE’s Drivetime host Sarah McInerney, Mr Harris admitted being one of its founders, but said he had acted as an advisor to the other contributors in recent times.
While he would not reveal their identities, he claimed they consisted of historians, trade unionists and two business people.
He also denied that the account was run by other journalists or politicians. ‘I have no problem admitting my involvement, but others using the [account] were a bit loath to [reveal their identities] because they are afraid of Sinn Féin,’ he said.
The Barbara Pym account has been slammed since its inception for making abusive remarks about individuals.
Irish Examiner journalist Aoife Moore said she was repeatedly trolled by the group. ‘This account sent me sexualised messages about whether Mary Lou McDonald “turned me on”, the size of my arse and called me a terrorist from the month I started at the Examiner,’ she tweeted. ‘Since then, I’ve had to go to counselling and the guards.’
In another tweet sent last October, the Barbara Pym account tweeted ‘Moore thinks she is sniping safely from behind Derry hedges, but she’s actually sniping from an ROI hedge in the Examiner and her SF backside is sticking up in the air.’
Responding, Mr Harris said that while he did not send those tweets, he did not see how they could be deemed offensive.
He added: ‘I’m always alone in Ireland warning about the dangers of Sinn Féin fascism. I opened up a new account to deal with them in Northern Ireland.
‘Yes, if I made mistakes it was not out of malice, but because of my genuine deep conviction that Sinn Fein is a malign force on this island.’
Sunday Independent editor Alan English said that the 79-year-old’s account frequently went ‘far beyond what I would describe as fair and reasonable comment’.