Adams branded as 'tainted' by SF election candidate on Twitter
Former Fianna Fail TD Andrews used phantom account to post abuse at party colleagues, writes Paul Williams
A Sinn Fein election candidate used Twitter to describe Gerry Adams as being "tainted" by his terrorist past and having too much IRA baggage to lead a government.
Former Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews made the comments about his current party leader, Mr Adams on a phantom Twitter account which he primarily used to dispense anonymous abuse at his then party colleagues in Fianna Fail and Micheal Martin.
In his tweets Andrews, who used the identity @brianformerff, referred to the number of people killed by "Sinn Fein Reps" over the years.
He also scoffed at Adams' claims that he was never in the IRA and questioned his suitability for government in the Republic.
Mr Andrews resigned from Fianna Fail in August 2012 after being unmasked as the mystery person behind the Twitter account in a sophisticated investigation carried out by the husband of one of his targets in the party.
Between March and June of that year he posted over 300 tweets containing highly critical and abusive material about his party colleagues and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.
A year later he joined Sinn Fein and was elected as a member of Dublin City Council for the party in 2014.
Believing that he was anonymous on the internet short message service, Andrews targeted abuse at his then Dublin South East constituency rival, Cllr Jim O'Callaghan - Miriam O'Callaghan's younger brother - who is standing as a candidate for Fianna Fail in next month's General Election.
Sarah Ryan, the daughter of former Fianna Fail MEP Eoin Ryan, was also singled out for criticism.
Andrews used the fake account to attack "dynasties" in Fianna Fail even though his family is steeped in the party's political DNA.
His grandfather Todd Andrews helped found the party and served as a minister while his father Niall, uncle David and cousin, Barry also served as TDs and ministers. Chris Andrews served for one term as a FF deputy from 2007 until 2011 when he lost his seat.
But his remarks about Sinn Fein and Mr Adams may cause him some difficulty with his new political family which has a low tolerance level when it comes to dissension of any kind. In two tweets posted in April 2012 he wrote:
"@buzzoneill knows all about killing given the amount of people Sinn Fein Reps killed over the years. #jeanmcconville @ShamrockRovers"
"Funny how @buzzoneill believes everything Mahon report says but doesnt believe that Gerry Adams was in the IRA! @ShamrockRovers"
Another Twitter exchange with a Sinn Fein supporter read:
"@RayWhelan1 what does @buzzoneill think of 'Sinn Fein MLA blots copybook with £16K ink habit' headline in Irish News @ShamrockRovers"
"@RayWhelan1 Does twitter lord mayor @buzzoneill and @ShamrockRovers supporter support convicted gunman and SF Cllr Mick Nugent? outrage!!"
"@RayWhelan1 Funny that Buzz was retweeting me yesterday now block me! He can give it out but cant take it !! @hypocritebuzz @ShamrockRovers"
"@Gerlad007 Convicted SF gunman and Cllr might help out with twitter lord mayor buzz o neill"
On May 21, 2012 he launched an attack on the suitability for government of either Adams or his then leader Micheal Martin in the following tweets:
"Micheal Martin and Gerry Adams have both got the same problem. They are both tainted by their past!!!"
"@suzybie SF in next Government would be as bad as FF being in next Gov."
"@suzybie Gerry Adams and Micheal Martin have a lot in common. They both have baggage the public wont forget or forgive."
In another post Andrews stressed the difference between the Old IRA and the Provos.
"@Robert1803Emmet No maybe about it! Fuck the old IRA this is about today. Killing/terrorising innocent people is okay with you!!"
In other tweets, including one addressed to his party's current deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, he lashed Sinn Fein/IRA's moral duplicity:
"@Robert1803Emmet Jean Mc Conville? and workers in the way of their bank raids!"
"@buzzoneill I agree with a lot of your views but given what SF has done to innocent people its a bit much listening to you pontificate"
"@buzzoneill Was it not corrupt to bury mother of 10 Jean Mc Conville. Is that acceptable to you. Selective outrage i thinks!!"
"@buzzoneill What about the ink cartridges! was that okay ? Hard to take SF being moralistic!! Its not their thing!"
"@RayWhelan1 No crusade- hard to take @buzzoneill lecturing others on morals after party he supported terrorized community"
"@Robert1803Emmet So what was SF Cllr going to do with his loaded gun when he was convicted in 2002 @RayWhelan1 @buzzoneill @ShamrockRovers"
"@Robert1803Emmet So Ira never done bank robberies!! selective democrat"
"@RayWhelan1 I dont remember @buzzoneill being outraged with low standards of SF cllr when convicted with having guns"
"@RayWhelan1 is @buzzoneill still trying to make his SF gun men party comrades trendy and likeable!! @ShamrockRovers"
"@Robert1803Emmet Ordinary working class people who have guns stuck in their face by your friends. they are the ones terrorised"
When @brianformerff first joined Twitter he described himself as: "Former FF supporter who feels they haven't changed, looking for a new home and that's not easy!"
But Fianna Fail was the main target for his vitriol:
"@randomirishnews Labour have sold out and FF have proven to be incompetent."
Another tweet read:
"@lawlessj FF will never recover while current leadership is there. People like S Donnelly are future."
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also came under further attack from @brianformerff:
"@oliverpgolden Martin was mentioned in #mahon so how can he still claim that he should be leader."
"FF should take Noel Whelan's advice and close up shop and get rid of hierarchy like willie O'Dea, martin, dorgan and start fresh."
He was even scathing of his own family when attacking "FF families" for thinking they were "special".
"@lawlessj FF families seem to think they are special. The Andrews Ryans Lenihans have a sense of entitlement @john_cant_type @Fagans3"
"@cbolgerr The elctorate got rid of Lenihan and Andrews dynasty because they couldnt tie their shoe laces between them. Listen to electorate"
"@Fagans3 The Andrews, Lenihans and Ryans thought they were royalty and electorate got rid of them because they want new blood @cbolgerr @Fagans3 but instead of listening to public the FF organization elect @SarahCatRyan. they just dont get the message from public @cbolgerr"
Andrews was eventually unmasked after he attacked Dublin businesswoman Kathryn Byrne who was a member of the Fianna Fail national executive.
The anonymous tweeter had questioned Ms Byrne's professional integrity and reputation prompting her tech-savvy husband, Eddy Carroll, to launch a sophisticated investigation to expose the source.
He spent months painstakingly pursuing the malicious tweeter using video surveillance and counter espionage techniques which traced the culprit to an internet café in Rathmines, south Dublin.
The cyber sleuth used a third party service called SnapBird.org which records every tweet posted indefinitely, even after they have been deleted.
The sting operation also involved Mr Carroll setting up another Twitter account called @john_cant_type to interact with Mr Andrews's fake account.
Mr Carroll compiled a forensic 35-page dossier containing over 340 tweets sent between March and June 2012, and pictures of Andrews in the process of posting the tweets in the internet cafe.
The document was handed over to Fianna Fail which launched an investigation.
Mr Andrews, who is contesting a seat in the Dublin Bay South constituency, resigned when he was informed of the inquiry -and before he could face internal sanctions, including being expelled from the party.
When approached at the time by the Sunday Independent the Sinn Fein candidate, admitted that he was responsible for the Twitter account.
"I take full responsibility for it. It was the wrong thing to do. I regret doing it. For someone who is generally outspoken and not afraid to speak out, I regret that I did not say things publicly six months ago," he told the Sunday Independent, which first revealed the existence of the extraordinary dossier.