Green Party TD and minister for children Roderic O’Gorman has condemned attacks on him from far-right activists who accused him of supporting paedophilia. The TD issued a statement in which he said that the claims made against him “are rooted in homophobia”. And he pointed out that the accusations are being “stoked by anonymous, far-right Twitter accounts”.
Irish Far-right groups using Telegram have also promoted the accusations against the TD.
O’Gorman was forced to issue the statement after a photograph of him with LGBTQI+ activist, Peter Tatchell, was shared online. In 1997 Tatchell had written a letter to the Guardian in which he pointed out that some of his friends, while aged from nine to 13, had made a “conscious choice” to pursue relationships with adults.
Tatchell has since said that the letter was edited by the Guardian. On Twitter he wrote that paedophilia is “impossible to condone” and that “I condemn it”.
But the Green Party TD was forced to issue a statement as a result of accusations made against him in recent days based on his photograph with Tatchell. He pointed out that the only time he met Tatchell was when the photo was taken. Going further, he said that he had not known of Tatchell’s letter before their meeting. And that its contents are “completely abhorrent to me”.
O’Gorman also said he was “glad” that Tatchell has since “clarified and explained” that the allegations made against him are untrue.
In his statement the TD highlighted the role of social media in spreading the accusations against him. He argued that “far-right Twitter accounts” were “using manipulation for their own ends”. And that they were “playing upon the genuine, deeply held concern we all share for child protection”.
Earlier in the week activists on Twitter pointed out that newly created accounts were spreading the homophobic attacks against O’Gorman. Many of the accounts appeared to have only been created in the last few weeks and months.
Irish far-right groups on Telegram have also attempted to use the incident to attack O’Gorman. A number of the groups have shared a link to a petition calling for the TD to resign.
Some of these groups are committed to spreading conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Others have openly called for anti-racism activists to be targeted. The administrator of one group went so far as declaring that “it is inexcusable not to be taking action in the real world”.
Featured image via Twitter – Roderic O’Gorman