"I'm not apologising to anybody." Eoghan Harris calls banned anonymous Twitter account "benign"
"I can't help it if other people are offended. I'm not apologising to anybody."
Former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris has said he is not sorry for being part of an anonymous Twitter account that has been banned by the platform, calling the account "benign".
The Sunday Independent terminated Harris' contract after Harris admitted to being involved in the running of the anonymous Twitter account set up in February last year.
After reviewing the account, the Sunday Independent editor Alan English said that many of its comments “went far beyond what I would describe as fair and reasonable comment. Under no circumstances would such material have been published in our newspaper or on Independent.ie.”
The account was set up under the name of Barbara J Pym and mostly posted tweets about aspects of Irish politics.
Speaking to RTÉ's Drivetime, Harris stated he was one of the founders of the account and that “about six people” were involved with it.
As for why the account was established, he told the show: "I'm a weekly political columnist and my politics are well-known.
"But I couldn't really visit my readers every week with all the stuff in Northern Ireland that I wanted to address.
"I have very strong views about the Protestant and loyalist working class and I felt they were becoming very alienated.
"I wanted access to mostly loyalists and unionists to assure them that many people in the Republic had no agenda against them... I could do that on that site."
Harris compared the account to the anonymous pamphleteering of the American founding fathers and Edmund Burke.
He also said that he wrote most of the account's tweets recently in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol but that he wouldn't have oversight on all of the account's tweets.
Defending the account's writings, Harris said: "I don't think that any fair-minded person going through that account would agree that it's anything but a benign account meant to reassure Northern unionists and loyalists.
"There are a very few rough passages in that and they're all directed at people well able to defend themselves."
Asked if he would apologise to journalists and Twitter users who found tweets from the account hurtful, Harris responded: "I can't help it if other people are offended. I'm not apologising to anybody."
He also said he was not sorry for having gotten involved with the account, stating:
"No, I would have had to have found an outlet to deal with Northern Ireland one way or the other. It is my life. All my life, people say I’m inconsistent, I’ve been consistent all my life in thinking that Sinn Fein is a malignant force which will eventually pitch us into some kind of civil strife unless you stand up to it."
A spokesperson for Twitter on Friday revealed it had suspended the account because of its violation of the platform's rules regarding "platform manipulation and spam".