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Friday 9 December 2016

Michael O'Doherty: Brave Emma is a true hero but trial by social media is not true justice...

Michael Flatley
Marc O'Neill

Emma Murphy has, almost overnight, become a national hero.

The young Dubliner, who posted the harrowing video on Facebook detailing a physical assault she suffered, has been universally praised for her strength, and her willingness to bring into the open a subject that remains too often taboo.

After initially denying that he did anything except push her, her former partner Francis Usanga yesterday came forward and admitted that the "push" was in fact a violent, open-palmed assault to her face.

But unpopular as the opinion may seem, is Emma's video and subsequent worldwide attention, far from being something to be welcomed, instead a disturbing development in the growth of trial by social media?

Usanga's assault is indefensible, and marks him out to most as a loathsome individual. But the fact that he is perhaps telling the truth about the nature of the assault will be lost on everyone, who have already made up their mind about him before he spoke to the Sunday World.

That is because Emma's video was judge, jury and executioner, even before the garda investigation into the assault had even begun. Therein lies the problem.

In 2012, a taxi diver had uploaded a video on to YouTube of a customer running away from his cab without paying a fare, hoping that a viewer would identify the culprit. Soon thereafter a student, Eoin McKeogh, was categorically identified by a viewer in the comments section.

There was only one problem. Eoin McKeogh was in Japan at the time the incident took place, and returned home to find his reputation unjustly in tatters. He has spent the intervening three years trying to get court orders against various online and print media to stop his name being mentioned in the press, and to have the video and online comments about him removed.

Despite the HighCourt judge commenting that McKeogh had suffered "a miscellany of the most vile, crude, obscene, and generally obnoxious comments", he has had to incur massive legal fees to clear his name, money which he doesn't have.

The Irish courts are famously wary of convicting someone purely on identification evidence, and the judge is obliged to give the jury a warning that history is littered with cases where honest people have made honest mistakes in identifying culprits.

Yet hardly a month goes by without someone who has been wronged putting a video, with the culprit's face pixelated, and threatening to expose them if they don't voluntarily come forward.

It cannot be long before, in so doing, someone is wrongly identified, and has to suffer the same fate as Eoin McKeogh.

One can understand the frustration that many victims feel about the delays in getting justice. One can understand the hurt that Emma Murphy felt, and applaud her bravery. But even if everything that she says on video is correct, there is one place for the administration of justice in Ireland, and it's the only place where a person's right to the presumption of innocence is guarded.

It is not social media. It is the courts.

 

With Michael Flatley's ego it will be hard to ever take him seriously as an artist

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It was only a matter of time before Ireland's foremost painters commented on Michael Flatley, the arriviste artist.

It comes as no surprise that this person should be Kevin Sharkey, a man whom has been in the news of late due to his heart-felt, some might say pompous, guardianship of artistic standards.

Sharkey has now turned his cross-hairs on Flatley, whose abstract paintings - which involve him putting paint on his dancing shoes and dancing on the canvas - are selling for anything up to €340k.

The end product, it's fair to say, has divided opinion. On the one hand, his publicist describes the work as "energetic, choreographed abstract compositions ... which capture the mystical, performative aspect of his dancing".

On the other hand, Sharkey has labelled it "lazy, inept, truly awful ... I've never seen such s**** in all my life." It is hard to disagree with Kevin's comments that Flatley's work is an insult to real artists, and he is simply capitalising on his fame as a performer.

After all, how can you possibly take seriously an artist who quotes from WB Yeats at his exhibition in London, re-printing his famous line from Among School Children "How can you tell the dancer from the dance?".

It's easy Michael. The dance is the energetic, awe-inspiring art form which gives pleasure to millions worldwide.

The dancer is the man with the extreme ego, oiled-up chest, commerbund and bandana, who wants to be taken seriously as an artist.

That's how you can tell...

 

Big Brother Marc re-brands himself

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Former Tallafornia star Marc O'Neill, when leaving the Big Brother house, explained why people dislike him.

"I can see why people were antagonised," he said. "I'm a p****. I'm a c***."

Having had time to reflect on his experience, Marc (right) has recalibrated his opinion of himself and is glad that he was evicted.

"I wanted to redeem myself and I wanted people to not remember me as 'yer man off Tallafornia' like the rest of them idiots!," he said. "I want to be known for me."

So I'm delighted to announce that Marc has been successful in his desire to re-brand himself. No longer will he be known as "that total tit off Tallafornia". Instead, he'll be known as "that brainless b****x off Big Brother".

 

Tough times, but Pamela's a class act

They say class is permanent and in a week when celebrity splits have been making headlines, a perfect antidote is provided by Pamela Flood.

The RTE TV presenter started dating restaurateur Ronan Ryan (inset) in 2008, but despite Pamela's TV career unrevelling and Ronan's businesses going bust within three months of their meeting, the couple are now married and as strong as ever as they await the arrival of their third child.

"That can put a strain on a couple," Pamela (left) said, talking of how they were "walloped by the recession".

"But as tough as things have been for us, we've come through it together, and we're both better individually and better as a couple."

Well said Pamela. Sheer class.

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