Mary Lou forced to apologise over fake online chat
Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald was forced into an embarrassing apology having inadvertently shared a fake Facebook conversation, allegedly involving former Socialist MEP Paul Murphy.
Yesterday, at around lunchtime Ms McDonald and other Sinn Fein members circulated a screenshot of a manufactured conversation, purporting to show Mr Murphy admitting lying about Sinn Fein policy on water charges. The image made the message appear to come from Mr Murphy’s personal account.
However, Mr Murphy on learning about their activity immediately protested his innocence, and accused Sinn Fein of engaging in “dirty tricks”.
At 2.26pm yesterday, Mr Murphy wrote a message on Ms McDonald’s Facebook page calling on her to disown the message, which was originally sent by a Sinn Fein supporter, who Mr Murphy claimed last night has since “accepted this did not come from Paul”.
In his message to Ms McDonald, Mr Murphy said: “Mary Lou, the picture that you posted appears to be a photoshop or else is a false account. I did not say what you alleged. I’d appreciate it if you clarified that to all those who like your page immediately. This seems to be extremely dirty tricks designed to damage the AAA by-election campaign”.
Mr Murphy also sent out a warning to his own friends and followers on the social media site.
He wrote: “A fake screengrab of a conversation that I supposedly had with a SFer is being circulated at the moment by prominent SF members. It is a fake, appears to be a photoshop. Extremely low dirty tricks that should be withdrawn immediately.”
Ms McDonald quickly took down the offending item from her Facebook page and issued a swift apology.
She said: “There was a screen shot of a conversation purporting to be from Paul Murphy (the Socialist Party candidate in the Dublin South West by-election) circulating on Facebook earlier this morning.”
“I shared this picture and I accept that the contents of this image were untrue. I am happy to apologise to Paul Murphy for any offence or distress this may have caused,” Ms McDonald wrote.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent last night, Mr Murphy said the incident showed the panic within Sinn Fein over the Dublin South West by-election, which the ousted MEP is contesting.
“I did not write that message. It exposes their weak position in opposition to water charges,” he said. “More and more people are seeing through their position,” Mr Murphy added.