Loughgall families take action over social media hate campaign

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The sister of an IRA Volunteer shot dead by the British Army has called for tighter regulation after images of his remains were repeatedly posted online.

Mairéad Kelly spoke out after pictures of her brother Paddy were put on social media last month.

He was one of nine people, including eight IRA martyrs, shot dead by the SAS at Loughgall in County Armagh in May 1987. The images appear to show the bodies of the men.

Mrs Kelly, who has campaigned for the full circumstances of the killings to be made public, said that over recent years the pictures have been posted online numerous times - most recently last month.

She said while some social media platforms react promptly, others are slower to remove hurtful photographs.

Ms Kelly said she views the posting of such images as a hate crime.

“It’s directed solely to create hurt to the families,” she said.

“I am aware of the images from the first inquest. I have examined the images in detail and I can detach myself from the image - but to think that someone would use the image to cause hurt to the rest of my family.

Ms Kelly said she believes the images would cause distress to anyone who views them.

“If this happened in any other case, whether republican, loyalists or civilian, the uproar across the board, even up to government level, you would be deafened by it,” she said.

“But yet it’s acceptable to happen in this case, nobody cares about it happening in this case.”

She said she raised the issue with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin last year.

“We are not looking anything special here, we are looking to be treated equally, the same way as any other family.

“They talk about the hierarchy of victims, there’s a hierarchy of relatives too.”

She added: “What’s stopping Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill coming out and condemning it, but condemning it with purpose to make a conscious effort to stop this happening.”

Mrs Kelly’s solicitor Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law, said social media giants have the “relevant technology to automatically prohibit the publication of the images in question”.

“Given that this technology has not yet been deployed in this case, we have now been formally instructed to initiate legal proceedings seeking a blocking order to prevent repeated publication,” he said.

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