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Wednesday 23 January 2019

Online posts about trial verdict could get you sued - lawyer warns

Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Individuals who air their personal views about those involved in the Belfast rape trial on social media could be at risk of being sued, an Irish solicitor has warned.

Following the outcome of the highly publicised trial, hundreds of people took to Facebook and Twitter to compose highly emotive comments about the verdict.

Laois GAA player Gary Walsh is among those who have landed themselves in hot water for commenting on the case.

After receiving a public backlash, the footballer issued an apology.

"In relation to my Tweet earlier, I would like to apologise for any unwanted negative attention it has brought to groups of people I am associated with in the public forum.

"It was ill-judged on my behalf in this regard," he said.

Dublin solicitor Kieran Friel told the Irish Independent that social media does not give people the right to say what they like about someone.

"Defamation on social media is a real thing - it's the exact same as defaming somebody in either a bar or restaurant. An award of €75,000 was made in a defamation case in Monaghan in 2016 regarding comments that were written on Facebook."

Mr Friel, from McHale Muldoon Solicitors, said people need to be very careful about what they write online.

"You shouldn't comment or accuse anyone of something on social media that can't be backed up - it's just not worth the risk," he said.

Irish Independent

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