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Irish language campaigner Linda Ervine and GAA club president calls out online trolls

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Linda Ervine with Sean Og McAteer (left), Down County Secretary, and Eddie Mulgrew (right), St Michael’s club chairman

Linda Ervine with Sean Og McAteer (left), Down County Secretary, and Eddie Mulgrew (right), St Michael’s club chairman

Linda Ervine with Sean Og McAteer (left), Down County Secretary, and Eddie Mulgrew (right), St Michael’s club chairman

An Irish language campaigner from east Belfast has said she will not be deterred from speaking about her work by the online trolls who target her for abuse.

Linda Ervine - who is also president of the recently established East Belfast GAA club which played its first match last week - said she had decided to call out the people who denigrate her on social media because she has nothing to hide.

"I'm always very transparent, always very open," she told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

"I work for the Methodist Church - here's what I earn, here is who funds me, come in and have a look, nothing to hide. But that doesn't suit some people.

"I don't know whether it's because they see you on the TV, or see you in a newspaper and think you're getting paid for it.

"But if they saw the car I drive, the house that I live in, and the lifestyle I lead, they'd know I'm not rolling in millions!"

Mrs Ervine, sister-in-law of the late PUP leader David Ervine, said there are a tiny amount of people who make it their business to "shout out untruths and lies - but I just wanted to call them out on it.

"I haven't anything to hide. So I've no reason to ignore it.

"One time someone accused me of doing a line with someone in Sinn Fein. My husband said, 'Where would you get the time?'

"The abuse is just a way of dismissing your work. It's a way of dismissing you.

"And because they don't have anything real to attack me on, they have to make up lies."

But she said: "I'm not going to let any of that put me off. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing."

According to Linda, the ugly trolling has had positive outcomes that her detractors could never have imagined.

"From I started in this job, the lovely thing I've found is that for the one nasty thing that happens a hundred good things will happen," she said. "And that's what strengthens you and keeps you going.

"Friends phone me. I get private messages of support, and online there are thousands of well-wishers."

Among them is Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA as she left Mass.

"Linda Ervine is lovely," she tweeted. "The abuse she receives because she is an advocate for learning the Irish language is ridiculous.

"Knowing Irish doesn't mean you are any less a unionist and if you are, so what? Linda is gentle and kind. She isn't forcing anybody to do anything."

Asked if she had a message for the trolls, Linda replied: "What you meant for evil, the Lord turns for good."

Ruth Dudley Edwards, Page 18

Belfast Telegraph