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‘There comes a time when you say enough is enough’ – Fitzgerald speaks out on Garda investigation

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*Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald. Photograph: John Mangan

An “unprecedented level of social media bashing” was endured by some Clare GAA officers in 2019, county secretary Pat Fitzgerald has lamented.

In his report to Thursday’s Convention, the Sixmilebridge clubman described the level of online abuse as “a particularly disturbing development”. “I suppose there comes a time when one has to cry ‘enough is enough’. For years I have been pilloried on social media and other online platforms, subjected to cheap shots by a majority of people who haven’t the decency or courage to put their names to the posts. And for most of the time I have chosen to ignore the diatribe.

“I have always prided myself as being a person with solid principles and values, of decency, integrity and honesty. But this year’s vitriol descended to unacceptable levels. When online posts question those personal characteristics and enter the realms of a smear and belittlement campaign as I see it, I just could not sit idly by any longer and bite my tongue. It was time to take forceful action”.

Fitzgerald revealed that the online comments have hurt his family. “Such an unwarranted character assassination impinges on my family as well. One can cocoon one self for so long but they too have been hurt by the unacceptable comments posted by people sitting at a keyboard, hiding behind the shields of anonymity”.

“It hasn’t just been this year alone, it just came to the point where I had to go down a road I had thought long and hard about previously. A cohort of people have consistently been of the one mind, hitting the keyboard trying to tarnish my good name and that of other officers of the county board,” the long serving officer stated.

A dossier of social media postings has been compiled by Clare GAA and handed over to An Garda Síochána as part of this investigation with a formal complaint made.

He concluded, “It wasn’t something I did lightly but I think you will all agree it is time to put a stop to the vilified attacks. Other officers of Clare GAA have been maligned on social media and these posts are also included in the dossier of complaints. We will wait to see what develops from the investigation”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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