Why do people tell lies Granda? This was a question posed by one of my grandchildren in the wake of lies and false allegations made against me in the press a few months ago. My grandchild had heard snippets of a discussion in our home about the incident and was upset. I explained the situation to the child as best as I could and reassured the child that I would deal with this matter; that it is wrong to tell lies on any person. I also explained that telling the truth was always the best thing to do, even if some people didn’t like to hear it, as was the case in this situation.
You may recall an article I published in The Pensive Quill a few months ago entitled ‘trolling the facts’. If not, the article was based on a number of false claims made about me by Derry based ‘victims campaigner’ Helen Deery in an article published in the Belfast Telegraph on 14 February 2018. This article received a lot of attention as you would expect, with people quick to believe the content as provided by Helen Deery and accepted by the journalist without question. Whilst I wasn’t named in the article my identity was made known by ‘human rights campaigner’ Kate Nash prior to the articles publication in a communication which can only be described as malicious.
To clarify, Helen Deery’s dash to the press followed a heated exchange between Helen and I on social media after this year’s Bloody Sunday March. This occurred when I called on Helen as a Bloody Sunday March Committee member for accountability over this year’s poster, committee membership and finances. This exchange later descended into name calling and the hurling of insults both ways, which is not uncommon behaviour for Helen or myself. Following this I was blocked from Helen’s facebook page and then to my disbelief, became the subject of scurrilous claims published in the Belfast Telegraph.
Since that time I have been on a mission to clear my name. I personally would have been content to leave my efforts at the article in The Pensive Quill which provided me with the opportunity to set the record straight, but decided to pursue the matter for my wife and Grandchild’s sake. My wife, who suffers from a litany of health issues from the time she spent in Armagh Gaol as a POW, was concerned that Helen Deery’s claims left us vulnerable to attack as a family. What further concerned my wife was the dissemination of this Fake News on social media by Kate Nash who not only knew the information to be false but as with Helen knows my wife and I personally. See previous article for more information on this.
I attempted to resolve the issue through the Belfast Telegraph and with the Journalist who penned the article. Unfortunately this did not prove fruitful. The attitude of the journalist was shocking and the Belfast Telegraph chose to ignore me.
My next move was to contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and register a complaint. IPSO is an independent body which regulates the press. Over the past few months I have provided IPSO with a full dossier of information to disprove the lies peddled by Helen Deery. As part of this lengthy process there was an engagement with the paper’s legal representatives.
Although resolute in my position a telling moment was when ISPO through their mediation process asked a legal representative if Helen Derry had any evidence to substantiate her claim that I had been ‘Trolling her since her brothers inquest’ to which the reply was a simple ’no’.
In the poster above you will see a small sample of the abuse levelled at me following the publication of the article in the Belfast Telegraph. As you will see this abuse included not only attacks on me but threats against me. So here are the facts as accepted now by the Belfast Telegraph:
The article published was misleading, which is the legally sound way of saying it was full of lies. The ‘misleading’ elements include:
· The myth that I had been trolling Helen Deery when this was nothing more than a two way spat on social media at the end of which Helen decided to use her victim status to sell it as something more sinister in the press in a bid to silence my call for accountability from the Bloody Sunday March Committee she is part of.
· The claim that Helen had never spoken to me. A claim concocted to fit in with the public perception of what a troll is when Helen Deery and Kate Nash know my wife and I personally and have done since 2015 when we supported them in highlighting the legacy elements of the Stormont House Agreement.
I am now calling on those who thought it acceptable to hurl abuse at me online when this article was published to publicly retract and apologise for their comments. I am also publicly calling on the Bloody Sunday March Committee to dismiss Helen Deery and Kate Nash with immediate effect. If they do not do this I can only infer that this is acceptance of this reprehensible and dangerous behaviour and that it is representative of the position of the March Committee. This with committee members having publicly supported Helen when the article was published. These members include those currently involved in Stormont funded projects aimed at promoting inclusivity, human rights, justice & peace.
From a Belfast perspective there is an insidious undercurrent permeating through certain things in Derry. This has been clear for a few years now. With this undercurrent the same names appear time and time again with the odd sock puppet from Tyrone thrown in for good measure. These people who seem to have nothing positive to offer are famous for their levelling of baseless allegations online, spouting off about ‘agents of influence’ and attempting to blacken names and reputations via their various online kangaroo courts during which there is never a shred of evidence produced, just accusation, insinuation and innuendo (sound familiar?). I faced this rough justice for asking a couple of questions. Others, including friends, and have faced much worse.
In closing, as I learned over the past few months, there are ways to take the press to task when required. The process is lengthy and can be infuriating, with the burden of proof placed upon you as the complainant. But when you have honesty on your side it can be done. Just look at me - I have overcome!