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SF member resigns after being outed as online troll

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Eoin Ó Broin

Eoin Ó Broin

Eoin Ó Broin

A Sinn Féin party member has been forced to resign after being outed as a social media troll.

Paul Heffernan, a party member in Wexford, confessed after being confronted by a businessman over anonymous abusive texts on social media.

A party investigation found he had used a Twitter account to troll politicians of other parties as well as various high-profile individuals.

The account was using the name 'PeeO'Neill,' a variant of a well-known Provisional IRA codename used to claim att- acks and make statements.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said: "With respect to the former member, good riddance.

"I think if you're going to say something on social media, then say it under your own name. This business of hiding behind anonymity I think is cowardly."

Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said: "It is time Mary Lou McDonald took action against the Sinn Féin trolls who are destroying Irish public discourse and bullying and intimating people.

"Ahead of the new Dáil term, every party should make a clear statement about how its members and representatives communicate on social media.

"All parties should instruct their members to use their real names online, and not fake accounts.

"This is most needed in Sinn Féin as it seems they are actually engaged in organised online bullying.

"Any time a member of another party puts something online, they are met with an avalanche of abuse from Sinn Féin activists."

Her comments echo an att-ack by her party leader, Leo Varadkar, who denounced Sinn Féin online bullying on the last night of the Dáil before it rose for the summer recess.

NASTY

However, Mr Ó Broin said: "I don't accept that the party doesn't do enough.

"In this instance, if that individual hadn't resigned from the party you'd have lots of us making sure everything was done to get rid of such a person.

"There is an element of soc-ial media, it's a minority, but it's nasty.

"We have far too many positive things to be talking about to be engaged in nasty or negative or vitriolic attacks on anybody, so I think our record stands for itself.

"People are accountable for what they say themselves online, and what we can do is we can urge people to use social media positively.

"The party doesn't benefit from negativity online."