sinister trolls | 

Norah Casey receives sinister threats following Aisling O’Loughlin anti-vax post

Norah revealed how her life was turned upside down last year when she suffered serious health issues, including being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, following a “mild” bout of Covid-19.

Dragon's Den star Norah Casey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2022. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Norah Casey

23/07/2008 Member of the Xpose team Aisling O'Loughlin at the launch of Xpose Friday Night Speacial at the Morgan Hotel, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins© Gareth Chaney

Aisling O'Loughlin

Eugene MastersonSunday World

Dragon’s Den star Norah Casey reveals she has gone to the gardai over threats to her life - after trolls targeted her following an online rant by former TV presenter Aisling O’Loughlin.

A shaken Norah tonight told the Sunday World that she has never felt more threatened in her life and she has has been advised by gardai, having reported the threats directed at her, to monitor what trolls are saying about her and inform them of any developments.

Brave Norah detailed in the Irish Independent on Monday how her life was turned upside down last year when she suffered serious health issues, including being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, following a “mild” bout of Covid-19.

But her revelations led to Xposé presenter O’Loughlin, who now lives in France and in recent years has emerged as a conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer, to let loose on her.

“Could Norah Casey’s long list of ailments be down to the ‘vaccine’ she pushed on television?

“Why is the media failing to make the connection?” O’Loughlin claimed online, before adding a link to a larger piece she has written on Norah and her medical condition.

Aisling O'Loughlin

Fighting back tears tonight Norah told us how she is now being targeted by trolls online.

“One of the comments was from someone called John. ‘She has her award, she won’t be with us much longer’,” she explains.

“That caused a whole series of comments, ‘I think she’s dead already, if she’s not dead she will be soon’.

“Some of them were calling me a drug pusher.

"They were quite sinister comments in that community. Some had just a few followers, but others had quite a lot and many were in America.

“You can either read it as saying; ‘I’m so ill I might die.’

"Or you could read it in a more sinister way. I certainly found them very upsetting and so did my family.”

She adds: “Of course there were ones calling me a drug pusher and all kinds of pretty derogatory comments.

"But whether she intended or not she wrote something which was quite inflammatory. She deliberately targeted me so I would read it.”

Norah confirms she was in contact with gardai today over the abuse.

“They told me to monitor and inform them of any more developments,” she stresses.

“I am worried about people knowing where I am. Even if somone posted where I’m speaking at events.

“It worries me when I see what happens female politicians. The fact my house is blasted over the TV.

Norah Casey

Most people know where I am at any given time.

“Although I’ve blocked them, within minutes of it more of them came after me.

"I was awake all night blocking them, but they still come after me. This has never happened me before. I’m really lucky up to now I don’t attract trolls, as I work with lots of charities.”

Norah, who came to the fore as publisher of a number of magazines, including Woman’s Way, Irish Tatler, and U, says she knew O’Loughlin in a professional capacity several years ago.

“I did know Aisling back in the day back in the day when she did Xposé.

"In fact, I think we put her on the front cover of one of the magazines and she was a judge and I liked her and respected her,” she maintains.

“I did see some of her reports during Covid.

"I wasn’t conscious that she was still there until I was coming back from hospital last night at 7 o’clock.

"I saw that [O’Loughlin’s comments] on my Twitter feed because she tagged me, so she intended me to see it.”

Norah, who was a judge on Dragon’s Den for two series and has also taken part in several other shows such as Dancing With The Stars and Celebrity Home Of The Year, admits O’Loughlin’s slant alarmed her.

“I was concerned about her piece but even more concerned about the fact that she drew a lot of anti-vaxxer Twitter people onto me, which was really uncomfortable,” she sighs.

“Sadly, I think lots of online abuse is moving to offline.

"We have seen some pretty grim examples of that over the last while.

“So, I felt very frightened by some of the comments that people were making.

"In the same vein I do block people firmly. It’s everybody’s right to speak but it’s my right to block and to not listen.

“Not only was her own article very strange because I was telling my story - which is my story - and really nobody gets to insert themselves in it and make really strange interpretations of what was wrong with me.

“I have five consultants. I trust my medical team far more than anybody else, and I know what happened to me and it wasn’t vaccine-related.”

She insists she has a right to speak openly about her medical condition.

“To twist my story, which was about a very serious illness that impacted on me and has changed my life into something that is a platform for the anti-vaccine community,” she storms.

“To me I can’t actually believe she did it, especially as she knows me.

“And she made these really strange links. I was on a programme on Virgin Media and the discussion was about employers bringing employees back into the workplace.

Aisling O'Loughlin

"At the time Covid was causing, and is still causing, serious illnesses and death and they were talking about the rights to privacy of the employee who hasn’t been vaccinated to maintain that secrecy.

“I made the point that if it was me - I always feel I also had rights – and if I didn’t want to sit next to an unvaccinated person that I should have the right not to do so.

"I wasn’t in any sense discriminating against people who didn’t choose to take the vaccine, I was saying for me myself I would not like to be unwittingly placed next to somebody who was refusing to wear a mask and wasn’t vaccinated”

Norah, who had been married twice and whose last husband died from cancer, lives with her only child, a 24-year-old son.

“In my world, during Covid, my sister got breast cancer and had multiple operations.

"My son has severe asthma, my mother is 92. That was my bubble, those three people. So, of course I’m pro-vaccine and if that’s the allegation then I’m guilty of it, absolutely guilty of it,” she stresses.

“I was a nurse, I spent my 20s doing journals in the medical and nursing field, so I do read the science and the research.

"I take the flu vaccine every year for similar reasons. My son has upper cortal asthma, so he has been hospitalised for a lot of his life, he can’t afford to get those kind of illnesses.

"They have a big impact on him and his lungs, so we’ve always protected ourselves.

“But to make the link between me making that comment to the fact I was pushing a vaccine, which I wasn’t, I think it’s everyone’s right to decide to take a vaccine or not, its people rights. It’s a strange argument to make that somehow my rights is less than someone’s right not to take a vaccine.”

She finds O’Loughlin’s logic irrational.

“The foundation of it is I was pretending, which she says at one point ‘keep the pretence up’, the fact that it was caused by Covid, which I have always said was mild,” she remarks.

“But what I had was a metabolic crash, so your body produces anti-bodies in response to viruses, all viruses, mine happened to be Covid.

"It was quite a few months since I had my vaccine and I had Covid in January last year and four weeks I was sick during those week and I was told my body was producing anti-bodies but not fighting it very hard.

"Eventually they started destroying my own cells, so it’s quite a recognised syndrome, not specific to Covid but it so happened that mine was linked to Covid and there are others that are linked to Covid. It wasn’t linked to the vaccine.”

She acknowledges she could have had worse effects only she had taken the vaccine.

“I have got good friends who got Covid before the vaccine and they have been left with long term effects. I don’t have long Covid,” she continues.

“I thought the premise of the article was to insert the premise of the vaccine into my story – which is not a fair thing to do- because it is my story and my truth, and secondly to imply I was pretending I didn’t know that I went to Davos (the economic summit in Switzerland) to mingle with vaccine-pushers.

“She asked why I was there.

"I’ve 10 posts on Linkedin in to why I was there. I wanted to go to Davos all my life. I went this year on my own steam, I spoke at three events. We set up a women’s impact fund to help women in the Ukraine and Iran. My purpose there was not a secret.

“There was a sinister link that I was mingling with some global vaccine pushers and me pretending that the vaccine hadn’t caused my illness.”

She is still coming to terms with it all.

“Not only was the post, which was upsetting to read, especially from somebody I knew. But then it attracted comments from people.

“I wouldn’t have thought me telling my story about what happened me was controversial in advance of all of this,” she concludes.

The Sunday World contacted Aisling O’Loughlin for comment but she has yet to respond.

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