Northern Ireland news


Social media post targets dozens from south Armagh border region

Eugene Hanratty talks to the Irish News about his problems with Facebook. Picture by Hugh Russell
Connla Young

DOZENS of people from the south Armagh border region have been targeted in an anonymous social media trolling campaign alleging links to criminal activity.

In total 38 people have been identified in a detailed post circulating widely on WhatsApp.

The post alleges that the majority are linked to criminal activity including drug dealing, money laundering, and machinery theft.

It comes as the PSNI yesterday said it had seized suspected cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of £50,000 in south Armagh.

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady last night described the post as "irresponsible".

Several business people from the south Armagh area are among those singled out for mention.

One of those named is south Armagh businessman Eugene Hanratty, who is from a known GAA family with strong links with Crossmaglen Rangers GFC.

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

Mr Hanratty was also targeted by "malicious" allegations posted on a fake Facebook page earlier this year.

His solicitor, Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law, last night said his client "welcomes Sinn Féin’s response in calling out the irresponsible actions of faceless trolls".

"This is not the first time our client has been maliciously targeted by faceless social media users spreading false and defamatory rumours," he said.

"He has recently obtained a High Court order against the social media giant Facebook, which in turn compelled them to provide the underlying personal data of the users.

"We are now instructed to initiate similar proceedings arising out of this post."

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady was critical of the social media post.

"Anonymous social media posts which have been widely shared making broad sweeping allegations about involvement in the drug trade are irresponsible," he said.

"This is not the way to deal with such a serious issue which is blighting communities and causing serious harm.

"It is up to the police and the justice system to deal with such crimes and everyone is entitled to due process before the law."

Mr Brady urged people not to share the posts.

Meanwhile, the PSNI has seized suspected cocaine and cannabis along with cash during searches in the Silverbridge and Crossmaglen areas.

Two men, aged 58 and 32, were arrested during the operation.

PSNI inspector Adam Corner said "drugs do nothing but bring misery to individuals, their families and the wider community".

“Police remain fully committed to tackling the scourge of drugs in south Armagh and we will continue to proactively investigate and carry out searches to tackle this issue," he said.

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