As a regular contributor to the The Pensive Quill I would like to raise the following issue: In a comment posted on social media Derry Sinn Fein member Donncha MacNiallais stated the following:
The Pensive Quill, the 'republican' blog whose sole purpose in life is to attack Sinn Fein. Their mediocre writers and contributors help create the cesspool in which those who attack republican homes in the dead of the night swim.
Donncha's comment is not only a direct attack on every individual who contributes to The Pensive Quill whether in the form of published articles or commentary, but an unwarranted attack on the right to free speech. At this rate Donncha will be supporting the reintroduction of the Broadcasting ban!
Donncha has made a broad sweeping accusation connecting contributions and comments published on The Pensive Quill with attacks on property and vehicles belonging to Sinn Fein members in Derry. Yet Donncha has forgotten one essential element in the midst of his wee rant – he has neglected to substantiate anything.
In a town that is no stranger to anti-social behaviour it beggars belief that Donncha could link these recent attacks to a forum of debate. As someone who has had their car torched by arsonists I can testify to the level of anti-social behaviour in my area. I was thinking of blaming the women's institute online discussion forum, but sadly like Donncha I had no proof.
I am quite confident that if there was anything submitted to The Pensive Quill of the nature Donncha suggests then Anthony McIntyre who runs the blog would refuse to publish it. As so maybe Donncha could point out where and when contributors have helped create a “cesspool in which those who attack republican homes in the dead of the night swim”.
At this juncture I feel obliged to signpost Donncha in the direction of the Human Rights Act, but then why let the Human Rights act get in the way of little diatribes from someone who has clearly nothing constructive to offer.
Article 10 of the Human Rights Act protects the following:
- The right to political expression (including comment on matters of general public interest);
- artistic expression; and
- commercial expression, particularly when it also raises matters of legitimate public debate and concern.
Like any member of the public Donnacha could choose to avail of the reply button on The Pensive Quill should he take issue with any article or comment. However like all those who contribute to The Pensive Quill this would involve having his commentary challenged which is world apart from throwing out dangerous comments on social media.
What needs to be asked is; Is this Donnacha's personal opinion? If not is this the position of Sinn Fein on free speech? Or ....... the position of the Bogside Residents Group of which Donnacha is a spokesperson? And on the subject of the Bogside residents group, with Donnacha tarring all contributors and commentators on The Pensive Quill with the one brush does this include his compadre Robin Percival (Bogside residents group etc) who recently had an article published on the The Pensive Quill.
And there was me thinking Muppets were confined to the television ... he haw!