I admit to having been rather irritated by Queen’s professor Colin Harvey’s recent complaints about being under threat, since I think he has a tendency to take himself unduly seriously, to see criticism as abuse and to flinch from the hurly burly that goes with a presence on social media.

Published: 15 November 2022

From what I’ve seen, he seems to get off lightly compared to other public figures.

He is, after all, the most prominent spokesman for Ireland’s Future, an organisation that is widely viewed by non-nationalists as trying to pressurise unionists into a united Ireland.

Personally, I don’t think they should worry. They should leave the Prof alone. Few people in the Republic other than devoted followers of Sinn Fein find Ireland’s Future interesting, since a united Ireland is way down the list of most people’s priorities and academic discussions on constitutional change bore them.

Though I read a few news reports when the Prof declared that a target had been put on his back, I couldn’t find anything on Twitter I thought worryingly threatening.

Yet organisations like Amnesty weighed in and along with concerned citizens like Martina Anderson were offering him moral support.

Yes, I’m sure he is hated in some circles, but angry loyalists don’t compete in numbers or vitriol with furious republicans who have a whole Shinnerbot army to express their loathing, so it beats me what’s getting him so upset. But then I long ago learned to laugh at abuse and threats from IRA fellow-travellers.

I should have framed the first threatening communication, sent to me by post in 1994, when I had the cheek to write that I thought the IRA declaration of a cessation of violence was just that and not the ceasefire that nationalist and British politicians and most of the media insisted it was.

So enraged was the writer at this slur on the IRA’s commitment to peace that he rather ironically said he couldn’t wait to see “the lads” blowing my ugly f****** head off when they got back to war, which, of course, as many of the bereaved and injured remember, they did in February 1996.

It made me laugh.

I wondered if the Prof was oblivious to what is unleashed regularly on uppity women like Ann Travers, the advocate for the cross-community victims’ group SEFF whose sister Mary was murdered and father injured by the IRA, and the commentator Máiría Cahill, as a teenager raped repeatedly by an IRA relative by marriage and then subjected to a kangaroo court.

So helpfully I tweeted ‘Has @cjhumanrights [his twitter address] any idea of the abuse IRA victims like @mairiac31 and @AnnTravers6 get every day? Has he any perspective whatsoever?’

He didn’t comment, but here are a very few of the negative responses to my tweet, including a few classic offerings from people who deflect guilt about IRA violence by attacking victims.

“They don’t get abuse because they are victims. If they get abuse it’s because they’re the biggest hypocrites on Irish Twitter.”

“Like they bring it all on themselves? Like Travers stalking of republicans, like what does she expect & as for Cahill it comes across she horsed around with her aunts husband & its Gerry Adams & SF fault and rags give her airtime to this effect”

That is how such republicans describe the repeated rape of a 16-year-old.

“Ann Travers uses her trauma to manipulate and cause hurt. She has no authority to speak for anyone but herself. People like her and Maria are keeping us in the past because of their own bitterness. And you are aiding and abetting that.”

I find such comments disgusting. The stuff directed at me is right off a duck’s back.

“As a Derry man and a life long human rights professional, I’d bet the farm that he [Harvey] does. Your daily and fanatical ranting and obsessive compulsive focus on the IRA is alarming Ruth. In fact, it presents as a psychosis. You should seek treatment.”

“I was just wondering what the bitter twisted old brit hag thought of this”

“You still babbling on, I thought you were dead.”

The insults they direct at me amusing and just retweet the choicest examples.

The Prof seems too sensitive for social media. It’s time he lightened up.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This