Northern Ireland

Journalists Allison Morris and Aoife Moore to take legal action against Eoghan Harris and Twitter

Eoghan Harris
Eoghan Harris

PROMINENT journalists Allison Morris and Aoife Moore are to take legal action against sacked Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris and Twitter in a bid to discover who was behind social media accounts which trolled them.

Mr Harris's contract with the Sunday newspaper was terminated earlier this month after it emerged he was involved in an anonymous Twitter account which targeted several high-profile figures in Irish public life, including journalists and campaigners.

A fierce critic of Sinn Féin, Mr Harris said he was among six people involved in the Barbara J Pym account.

It has been suspended by Twitter along with several others linked to it.

Journalist Allison Morris
Journalist Allison Morris

Ms Morris, an award-winning former Irish News journalist now working for the Belfast Telegraph, said she has suffered "sustained and obsessive attacks" via anonymous accounts.

"As a female journalist and commentator, the posts also had a deeply misogynist tone to them, all too common on social media," she said.

"Women working in the media are not fair game for those who wish to control every aspect of our profession and dictate who is entitled to a platform."

Ms Morris's solicitor, Claire McKeegan of Belfast firm Phoenix Law, said legal action will be taken in Dublin's High Court.

"We have sought full disclosure of each and every targeted account pertaining to Mr Harris directly and from Twitter," she said.

"Given that no cooperation has been forthcoming we are now asking the court to exercise its powers to retrieve the data."

Journalist Aoife Moore
Journalist Aoife Moore

Ms Moore, a Derry-born political correspondent for The Irish Examiner, said she was abused in more than 120 tweets from two separate accounts in just 12 months.

She has previously said she contacted gardaí and had to have counselling after she was repeatedly trolled.

"These posts tagged other journalists and politicians, spreading dangerous lies about me while I carried out my work professionally and diligently," she said.

"These statements attempted to use my background and home town against me in a misguided attempt to belittle my work and promote a false narrative.

"It's been open season on women in media for too long and it ends now."

Ms Moore's solicitor, Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, said those behind the anonymous accounts must be identified.

"Our client will take all the steps necessary to protect her reputation and will not be deterred as a young female journalist by the actions of men operating faceless Twitter accounts," he said.

The @barbarapym2 account, set up in February 2020, targeted several high-profile people including Ms Moore; Ms Morris; Belfast film-maker Seán Murray; Professor Colin Harvey of Queen's University Belfast; citizenship campaigner Emma De Souza, and journalist and author Paul Larkin.

Several other people, including Mr Murray and Mr Larkin, have already announced they are taking legal action following the revelations.