Journalist Aoife Moore had suffered dreadfully because of alleged defamatory remarks about her on Twitter and wished to put legal proceedings behind her at the earliest opportunity, a judge was told Thursday.
The remarks were made by her barrister Conan Fegan who asked the Circuit Civil Court to transfer defamation proceedings against her by former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris to the High Court and have them consolidated with defamation proceedings she had already launched against him.
Mr Harris, represented by Hugh McDowell and Carol Coleman of Dore Solicitors, wanted his case against Moore to go ahead in the Circuit Civil Court over two days allocated to the hearing in January next.
He said in an affidavit it was entirely incorrect of her to suggest that his Circuit Court proceedings were a duplication of matters she intended litigating against him in her High Court proceedings.
Mr McDowell told Judge John O’Connor it was his client’s view that Ms Moore’s bid to have both cases heard in the High Court was a deliberate obfuscation on her part with the objective of trying to ensure his lower court proceedings were not heard before her High Court action got a hearing.
Mr Harris, of Seapoint Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, told the court that Ms Moore’s High Court proceedings against him alleged he defamed her in a series of tweets from a Twitter account in the name of ”Barbara J. Pym” by calling into question her journalistic objectivity and that her reporting was partisan in favour of Sinn Féin and the wider republican movement in Ireland.
“My proceedings against her by contrast allege she defamed me by accusing me in a tweet of sending her sexualised messages on Twitter,” Harris stated.
He quoted the alleged tweet as having stated: “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 (Irish) Examiner,” as political correspondent in January 2020.
Ms Moore, of Bayside Crescent, Dublin 13, said in her affidavit supporting her application to have Harris’s proceedings struck out or transferred, said her tweet had been published in the aftermath of the public exposure of Harris as one of the people behind a number of anonymous Twitter accounts that defamed her and others over a number of years. She said about 120 Tweets had been published by Mr Harris and others in what could only be described as a malicious campaign of defamation against her.
In her High Court proceedings Ms Moore claims that Mr Harris published, or caused to be published, on the Barbara J Pym account on Twitter words that were defamatory of her.
Among other Tweets she outlined: “Aoife Moore would defend SF/IRA stuff that sickens most of us in the Republic…..Moore thinks she’s 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…..Unlike most Southern journalists Aoife Moore has never called on Sinn Féin to condemn Paul’s (Quinn’s) murder…..That’s SF’s sick view of the Troubles Aoife Moore, which you’re daily importing into the Republic…..Today’s Irish Examiner goes full Provo, effectively edited by Aoife Moore, but nobody is going behind its paywall to read a poor man’s An Phoblacht…..Aoife Moore is targeting the Taoiseach because he keeps asking her favourite party Sinn Féin awkward questions about the IRA, Jean McConville and Paul Quinn.
Judge O’Connor said he would transfer Mr Harris’s Circuit Court proceedings to the High Court with a recommendation that Circuit Court legal costs apply, but this would be a matter for the High Court judge concerned.
Mr McDowell, who had strongly opposed the transfer of the proceedings, said he had been unable to obtain up-to-the-minute instructions but, in any case, his client Mr Harris had 10 days in which to decide whether to appeal the ruling.