Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Ann Travers: The online trolls won't silence me

Ann Travers has been the victim of internet trolling
Ann Travers has been the victim of internet trolling

I've been the target of yet more online trolling abuse. It usually starts after I've posted support to another family, in this case the Birmingham pub bomb families who are fighting for West Midlands Police to reopen their case.

It started last Friday night with this tweet: 'jean mcconville was a spy and your da was part of the brit war macchine (sic)'.

Which made me chuckle because it was so ridiculous. Dad was a Resident Magistrate, one of few Catholics to hold such a position. On April 8, 1984, he was shot six times while walking home from Mass. My sister Mary was shot once in the back by a second gunman and died in mum's arms. The same gunman tried to kill my mother but, miraculously, the gun jammed. Dad survived but spent the rest of his days searching for justice for his precious Mary, who was just 23 when she died. But then I received more disturbing tweets: 'how's your uda and uvf mates ann, have you them down to stay?' Another troll said that 'my law' flew in the face of conflict resolution and called me a 'spiteful, petty woman'.

I'm not naive, I know I get trolled because I stood up to Sinn Fein when they appointed the only person convicted of my sister's murder as a special advisor, which had a devastating re-traumatising affect on me. I pleaded in vain with Sinn Fein to rethink the appointment, so was then forced to lobby, alongside TUV leader Jim Allister, for legislation to prevent those with serious criminal convictions from obtaining such posts.

Of course, I understand some don't agree with the legislation. But what's baffling is how some trolls clearly think that because I worked with Jim Allister, I'm responsible for TUV policies. As if anyone who seeks help from an MLA is then responsible for anything that party does! It's absurd. I'm not a member of the TUV. Trolling is about intimidation, and I won't be intimidated. I'll help any family that asks me to do so. And sharing such powerful testimonies will only help build a better understanding: we are all the same, we all hurt. So, trolls, if you think saying malicious things about me will stop me, you're wrong. I'm not going anywhere – and the powerful love I hold for my sister Mary will sustain me against any of your attacks.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk