Northern Ireland news

#IBelieveHer hashtag trending again after Paddy Jackson joins new rugby club

Paddy Jackson has signed for London Irish rugby club. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE #IBelieveHer hashtag has been trending again since news emerged that former Ireland international Paddy Jackson is to join a new rugby club.

Just over a year since the 27-year-old's contract was revoked by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) following his acquittal of rape in 2018, he has signed with the newly-promoted London Irish team.

But the move has prompted the re-emergence of the social media hashtag #IBelieveHer, which went viral during the trial last year.

Many social media users have reacted angrily to fly-half Jackson's signing from Perpignan with many using the hashtag, which has led to it trending once again.

Paddy Jackson (right) and team-mate Stuart Olding were acquitted of the charges against them. Picture by Alan Lewis/ PhotopressBelfast

One Twitter user wrote: "Shocked and disappointed by this news. This is a player who should never work again after the way that poor woman was treated".

Another said: "This is a horrible decision", with another adding: "London Irish hang your heads in shame".

Read More: Gillen Review recommends banning public from rape trials

Some fans have also vowed on social media to boycott the club while Jackson is on the books.

Jackson and fellow Irish international Stuart Olding were acquitted of the charges against them last year.

Following their acquittal, the IRFU elected to sack them due to messages they had exchanged with two other defendants over text and social media, which came to light as part of the court case.

They both found new clubs in France with Jackson joining Perpignan in the summer of 2018 and Olding signing a deal with Brive.

Speaking after his signing, Jackson said: "I'm delighted to be joining London Irish next season at such an exciting and pivotal time for everyone involved with the club.

"London Irish have a clear vision for where they want to be and I look forward to being part of it."

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