Gardaí complete inquiry into Eoghan Harris Twitter harassment claims

File on the case is due to be sent to the DPP who will decide whether to charge ex-senator

A Garda investigation into claims a news journalist was harassed via Twitter accounts controlled by former senator Eoghan Harris and his wife Gwen Halley has been completed.

The Irish Times understands a file on the case is about to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide if the allegations are criminal in nature and, if so, whether Mr Harris or Ms Halley should be charged.

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, said: “Gardaí at Pearse Street received a complaint in relation to alleged online harassment in May 2021. A criminal investigation is ongoing at this time.”

While the Garda investigation, which involved interviewing the parties involved, is now complete and the file is to be sent to the DPP, it is unclear how long it will take before a direction is made about whether the Tweets are criminal in nature and whether to pursue charges or take no further action.

The investigation has been carried out on foot of a complaint by journalist Aoife Moore last year. Ms Moore, who works as a political correspondent for The Irish Examiner, this week also initiated defamation proceedings in the High Court against Ms Halley, over a Twitter account in the name of Dolly White.

Ms Moore has already taken separate proceedings against Mr Harris, who is terminally ill with cancer, over posts from another Twitter account which operated under the pseudonym Barbara J Pym. Mr Harris, a veteran newspaper columnist, was sacked by the Sunday Independent last year after he admitted being involved with others in the running of the Barbara Pym account.

In defending claims that account posted tweets which were misogynistic, abusive and defamatory, he has claimed the posts were fair political comment.

News emerged this week that a defamation action had been initiated by Ms Moore against Ms Halley, also a former Sunday Independent journalist.

Ms Halley is defending her action on the basis she tweeted about Ms Moore’s coverage of Sinn Féin and what was said in the messages, she claims, was fair comment. Similarly, Mr Harris is defending his case on the basis what he tweeted was political in nature.

Mr Harris previously admitted the Pym account was used to send tweets asking if Moore was “turned on” by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald being the first woman to lead the Opposition as well as tweets referring to her “sniping safely from behind Derry hedges,” adding that “her SF backside is sticking up in the air”.

Other accounts linked to the Pym account were shut down by Twitter for breaching its rules against “platform manipulation” and “spam” when it emerged 12 months ago they were linked.