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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 13, 2012 @ 10:19 am


    Harry McGee

    Well Chris Andrews’ twitter alter ego essentially reflected the fate that was to befall the former TD for Dublin South East.

    @brianformerff purported to be a disillusioned activist from the south of the city with lots of critical things to say about the party, its organisational structures and its leader Micheál Martin. But what marked out the blog was the nasty criticism it directed against certain other Fianna Fail in south Dublin, particularly Jim O’Callaghan, a councillor and potential rival for a nomination in Dublin South East.

    Over the weekend Andrews was unmasked as the person behind the twitter account and walked the plank before Fianna Fail made him do so.

    Politicians are not immune to duplicity. TDs will publicly vow their undying fealty to a leader or to a cause while privately they will tell a journalist – off the record – that the leader, or cause, is a waste of space or time.

    But what Andrews did was of a different order entirely. This wasn’t voice of conscience stuff: it was somebody using a twitter account to settle scores.

    Nor was it anonymity like ‘Primary Colours’ where a persona is chosen to allow the writer to be more candid and less sensitive to feelings.

    Will it damage Fianna Fail? A little. But the primary damage will be to Chris Andrews himself. He is the third-generation of Fianna Fail aristocracy and, now, his political career is effectively over. There was a dishonesty and cowardliness in what he did that would take too much explaining away.

    He could have been more open in his criticism and shipped little damage. It’s not as if Fianna Fail is on the crest of a wave. It has been getting little but (public) abuse over the past few years so an insider telling some more home truths would have made little difference.

    But then you seen the personal stuff and you suspect that the motives behind the twitter account were less than saintly – and included bitterness and territorial wrangles.

    There is a more general issue here and it’s about people hiding behind anonymous twitter accounts to launch agenda-laden or nasty attacks on public figures. We saw legions of example coming from Britain during the Olympic games but we haven’t been immune to it here either. These trolls trade on nastiness but neither have the courage nor the conviction to ‘front’ up and be identified publicly.

    And lo and behold, it turns out that Chris Andrews, whom I liked as a TD, turns out to be one.




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