Eoghan Harris confirms ‘Sunday Independent’ contract terminated

Editor says long-time columnist’s position ‘became untenable’ due to Twitter activity

Columnist Eoghan Harris has confirmed that his contract with the Sunday Independent has been terminated.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Columnist Eoghan Harris has confirmed that his contract with the Sunday Independent has been terminated. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

Columnist Eoghan Harris has confirmed that his contract with the Sunday Independent has been terminated.

According to a report on Independent.ie, the newspaper’s editor Alan English decided to terminate Harris’s contract this week, after he said he was involved in a Twitter account under the name Barbara J Pym.

English said Harris’s position as a columnist “became untenable” when he confirmed to Independent News & Media (INM) that he had contributed to the account, which mostly posted about aspects of Irish politics.

English said many of the views expressed on the account were in keeping with Harris’s Sunday Independent column.

“Eoghan has accepted that he was one of the founders of the account. He has also stated to me that he was ‘one of a group of people that contributed to a Barbara Pym entity’.

“Having reviewed the account this week I found it frequently went far beyond what I would describe as fair and reasonable comment. Under no circumstances would such material have been published in our newspaper or on Independent.ie.

“We regard Eoghan Harris’s involvement with this account as a betrayal of trust and as such his contract has been terminated.”

Peter Vandermeersch, publisher at INM, said that while Harris has been an “outstanding columnist”, all employees must follow INM’s core values of “openness, transparency and the highest journalistic standards”.

“We could not tolerate a situation where a columnist was contributing anonymously to a social media account which contradicts these core values,” he said.

When contacted by The Irish Times, Harris confirmed that his contract had been terminated. He said he would not be commenting further on the matter.

Harris, a former Senator, was involved in republican and Marxist politics in the 1960s and 1970s before recanting previous views and becoming a staunch critic of the IRA and Sinn Féin.