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In the Media

article image2 Irish men fined for posting anti-Catholic comments on Facebook

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By Anne Sewell
Apr 14, 2012 in Internet
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In the first social media related case to hit Northern Ireland, 2 men have been fined for posting sectarian messages on Facebook.
Matthew McKenna (20) and Dean Boyd (21) were fined for posts on Facebook which threatened to kill “taigs” (Catholics) along with other religious abuse. They were fined $715 and $396 respectively.
Coincidentally Boyd's wife and child are both Catholic.
Irish Central reports that the posts were made at the height of the loyal order marching season in County Antrim, Ireland, last year.
The comments were reported to the police by Sinn Fein Northern Ireland Assembly member Daithi McKay, as he had been named by McKenna in a comment and he feared for his family's safety.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that this is one of the first cases prosecuted in connection with social networking in Northern Ireland.
Both men pleaded guilty to posting the comments.
The court said that Boyd posted a comment saying “kill all taigs" and "f**k the Pope", on his 21st birthday on August 25, 2011.
Boyd expressed remorse in court and his lawyer said that he had quickly removed the offending post. They did add that it was his birthday and that he had been drinking.
The lawyer stated in court: "Mr Boyd did post the comments that have been read out but within 20 minutes he realized he should not have done such a thing and took the comments down.
"He was extremely frank and remorseful to police, in contrast with the responses of the other individuals."
The defense said “He runs in mixed circles and his friends heard of this and he suffered quite a deal of appropriate opprobrium for what he has done."
On McKenna's side, the prosecution stated that he had made a comment which named McKay and had also posted: “Let's show the scum in Rasharkin [a Co Antrim village where many Catholics live] how it is done.
"God save the Queen. For God and Ulster, Kill all taigs. Lest we forget."
The judge said “These stupid, rabble-rousing sentiments are better left unsaid and your mouth zipped.
"When you place them on the media like this it only excites and stirs up feelings in the community, which we could all do without."
McKay said “No-one would get away with making such comments in the street and it is important that a message is sent out that sectarian comments and threats such as this are not acceptable and in this instance can inflame tensions."
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