Tuesday 16 October 2018

Josepha Madigan: Irresponsible social media usage must be tackled to protect justice system

People at a rally expressing solidarity with the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial outside Cork City Hall yesterday. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
People at a rally expressing solidarity with the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial outside Cork City Hall yesterday. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Josepha Madigan

As the criminal trial in Belfast of two high-profile rugby players for rape ended, a massive wave of emotion reverberated. The reaction on social media was particularly powerful, with #Ibelieveher trending and myriad opinions being expressed.

While the hashtag has changed, some serious issues that appeared during and after this trial are similar to those that prompted me to bring forth proposals last year around the use of social media posts during criminal court cases.

In that instance, #JobstownNotGuilty was being used persistently during the criminal trial last year of Paul Murphy TD and a number of other individuals were tried for false imprisonment in 2014 of the then-Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell at a water charges protest.

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