Eoghan Harris declines to apologise for role in anonymous Twitter account

Eoghan Harris declines to apologise for role in anonymous Twitter account

Mr Harris, a former Senator and native of Douglas, had his contract with the Sunday Independent terminated this week after admitting his involvement in the account.

Former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris has declined to apologise for his role in an anonymous Twitter account.

Mr Harris, a former Senator and native of Douglas, had his contract with the Sunday Independent terminated this week after admitting his involvement in the account.

Twitter later suspended the account and eight others it believed to be linked to it, for violating its rules over platform manipulation.

A number of high-profile media personalities have claimed they had abuse directed at them from the account.

Radio interview

Appearing on RTÉ’s Drivetime on Friday, Mr Harris said he had been involved in the running of the account along with “five or six” others.

He said he founded the account because he wished to highlight issues in the North.

“I couldn’t really visit my readers every week with all of the stuff in Northern Ireland I wanted to address” he said.

“I wanted access to mostly loyalists and unionists to assure them that many people in the Republic had no agenda against them, and no designs on them, and no malign intentions about them. And I could do that on that site.” 

Asked if he wished to apologise for his part in the account, he said: “No, I would have had to have found an outlet to deal with Northern Ireland one way or the other.

“It is my life. All my life, people say I’m inconsistent, I’ve been consistent all my life in thinking that Sinn Fein is a malignant force which will eventually pitch us into some kind of civil strife, unless you stand up to it.” 

He denied authoring the offensive tweets published by the account.

He declined to name the others involved in the account, but denied there were any other journalists.

Mr Harris has been a vociferous critic of Sinn Fein for many years and has written extensively on Northern Ireland.

Editor announced his departure

News of his departure from the Sunday Independent broke on Thursday night.

The paper’s editor, Alan English said: “Having reviewed the account this week I found it frequently went far beyond what I would describe as fair and reasonable comment.

“Under no circumstances would such material have been published in our newspaper or on Independent.ie.

“We regard Eoghan Harris’s involvement with this account as a betrayal of trust and as such his contract has been terminated.” 

Peter Vandermeersch, Publisher at INM, said: “Eoghan has been an outstanding columnist of the Sunday Independent.

“While we are very appreciative of his contributions over the years, we expect all our contributors to act in line with our core values of openness, transparency and the highest journalistic standards.

“We could not tolerate a situation where a columnist was contributing anonymously to a social media account which contradicts these core values.

“We will continue, however, to provide a diverse range of voices and opinions in the Sunday Independent.”

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