Northern Ireland news

Co Armagh businessman Eugene Hanratty says 'malicious' Facebook campaign meant to cause 'maximum distress and damage'

Eugene Hanratty, whose family has close links to Crossmaglen Ranger, says "malicious" allegations posted on a fake Facebook page were meant to cause "maximum distress and damage". Picture by Hugh Russell.
Connla Young

A well known Co Armagh businessman whose family has close links to the GAA has said a series of "malicious" allegations posted on a fake Facebook page were meant to cause "maximum distress and damage".

Crossmaglen man Eugene Hanratty last night vowed to hold those behind the "campaign" against him and his family "accountable".

Mr Hanratty is from a well know GAA family which has strong links with Crossmaglen Rangers.

His family's firm, Hanratty Oils, is currently the club's main sponsor.

The 39-year-old spoke out after a series of claims were made on social media earlier this month.

They include false allegations that he has links with loyalist paramilitaries and criminality.

Solicitors acting for the Armagh man have branded the claims "libellous" and said they were circulated through a fraudulant Facebook account and Whatsapp.

One of Ireland's best known GAA clubs, Crossmaglen Rangers have dominated Armagh senior football for more than two decades and during that time have won 11 Ulster club titles and six All-Ireland club titles.

The club has also provided a host of players to the Orchard County senior set up in recent years.

“Earlier this month I was subject to a targeted and malicious campaign to cause me and my family maximum distress and damage," Mr Hanratty said.

"As a result of the circulation of this material I had no alternative but to commence formal legal proceedings to protect my character and identify those persons responsible."

His solicitor Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, has now written to Facebook demanding details the page used to post the damaging claims.

These include registration details, the IP address from which the account was accessed, the search history, a copy of direct private messages exchanged regarding his client and the Facebook activity log for the user in question.

The social media giant has been given seven days to respond or an application will be made to the court.

Mr Mackin added: "Our client has now taken the necessary steps to initiate legal proceedings to firstly, hold Facebook to account, and secondly, to ensure that the individual behind the mask of a fake account is identified so that he too may not act with impunity."

 

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