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social scandal Columnist Eoghan Harris says he's 'not sorry' as he doubles down after Twitter suspension

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Former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris. Photo: Tony Gavin

Former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris. Photo: Tony Gavin

Former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris. Photo: Tony Gavin

The storm over Eoghan Harris’s alleged tweets intensified as Twitter suspended eight accounts ‘linked’ to the ­former Sunday Independent columnist.

Mr Harris yesterday told the Irish Independent that he has appealed Twitter’s decision and denied “running or curating” any other Twitter accounts.

He also denied sending “messages” to Irish Examiner journalist Aoife Grace Moore.

Mr Harris was interviewed by Sarah McInerney on RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime and said that he “can’t help it if other people are offended”.

“I’m not apologising to anybody,” he said. “I would deny that it tweeted abusive tweets.

“I believe that any fair-minded person would see that account as a generally benign account that is not tweeting abuse at people. And if it is tweeting criticism at people, they richly deserve it because they’re usually Sinn Féin enablers, or stooges, or pawns.”

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Sunday Independent editor, Alan English

Sunday Independent editor, Alan English

Sunday Independent editor, Alan English

One of the tweets sent from the anonymous account said: “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.”

Speaking about this tweet, Mr Harris denied writing it, but said that: “You could say that about any male politician who’s hiding his politics that you see his backside. That’s not gendered.

“There’s nothing sexualised. There’s nothing sexually offensive about that. It’s robust and it’s actually more humorous than anything else.”

Eight Twitter accounts “linked” to former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris’s fake ‘@BarbaraPym2’ account were suspended, according to the social media platform.

The sanction was imposed, Twitter says, “for violating our policy on platform manipulation and spam”.

The Sunday Independent announced on Thursday that Mr Harris would no longer write for the newspaper due to his anonymous involvement in the @BarbaraPym2 Twitter account, which regularly praised his newspaper columns, criticised other journalists and attacked Sinn Féin.

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“The account was permanently suspended for violating the Twitter rules on platform manipulation and spam,” said a Twitter spokesperson yesterday.

Twitter declined to give more detail about the specifics of why it was suspended.

However, its rules on “manipulation and spam” state that users “can’t mislead others on Twitter by operating fake accounts”.

While pseudonymous accounts are allowed, Twitter suspends accounts for “inauthentic engagements that attempt to make accounts or content appear more popular or active than they are”. It also bans “co-ordinated activity that attempts to artificially influence conversations through the use of multiple accounts or fake accounts”.

The spokesperson declined to divulge the identify of the eight other “linked” accounts that have now also been ­suspended.

“Platform manipulation is strictly prohibited under the Twitter rules,” the Twitter spokesperson said.

“We also suspended eight accounts linked to the account referenced for violating our policy on platform manipulation and spam.”

She said that the eight accounts were detected “using technology and human review” to “proactively monitor Twitter to identify attempts at platform manipulation and mitigate them”.

Mr Harris told Independent.ie that he has appealed Twitter’s decision but has not been given any indication of when the appeal will be resolved.

Mr Harris also denied “running or curating” any other Twitter accounts.


On Thursday, Ms Moore tweeted: “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. Since then, I’ve had to go to counselling and the guards.”

Mr Harris denies what he describes as the “implication” that Ms Moore was “private messaged”.

“I never sent her any message of any sort about anything,” he said.

However, his @BarbaraPym2 account publicly tweeted at Ms Moore’s Twitter account: “So that’s what turns you on?” in reference to Ms Moore’s tweet about Mary Lou McDonald becoming the first female opposition leader.

Mr Harris described being let go by the Sunday Independent as “a very severe reaction”. He said that he would have expected a “reprimand” and “a warning not to do it again”.

Mr Harris said that he did not know whether he would continue writing because being let go from the Sunday Independent was “a brutal blow”.

Earlier Mr Harris told The Irish Times that the @BarbaraPym2 account was run by a “team of five or six people”. However, he denied running any other anonymous accounts. “How would I have the energy to run nine accounts?” he said.

Aoife Grace Moore declined to comment further when contacted by Independent.ie.

On Thursday, Sunday Independent editor Alan English said: “We encourage the expression of strong, sharp and diverse opinions in the Sunday Independent and Eoghan Harris’s column has been a must-read for a great number of readers for a considerable time.

“Regardless of where they stand on any issue, we expect our writers to put their views across in a transparent ­manner,” he said.

“Readers can agree or disagree with these opinions. We will not, however, tolerate hidden agendas.”

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