Boxer vows to make political return in wake of online abuse 'hell'

Liam Cosgrove

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Liam Cosgrove

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liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Boxer vows to make political return in wake of online abuse 'hell'

Former Junior Minister and Independent general election candidate Kevin 'Boxer' Moran with Mirnada Moran and Joe McGowan, while campaigning in January 2020 Picture: Shelley Corcoran

Former government minister and Longford -Westmeath TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran has vowed to make a return to the political fold just days after lifting the lid on the “hell” he and his family have endured at the hands of social media trolls.

The Athlone based father of two who served as Minister of State for the OPW for four years until his electoral defeat 14 months ago, told of how his appetite for public office was as fervid as it ever was despite months of online abuse.

“There is no election and there won’t be for a while, but I’ll tell you this much, I’m not out of politics yet,” he told the Leader this week.

Mr Moran was arguably the biggest political casualty to emerge from last year’s general election, bringing an end to a near five year long Dáil career.

In the midst of that defeat, the former Westmeath county councillor spoke out against the “hate speech” which had been thrust his way in the weeks leading up to the election.

Those calls gained further weight last week when Mr Moran spoke publicly over how spurious allegations concerning his personal life had brought him and his family to the depths of despair.

“I have two grown up gosons and when they come home from work and are saying they had heard you had gone from their mother, that’s tough,” he said, adding the online vitriol had likewise taken its toll on both his parents, Kathleen and Frank.

“My mother is in a wheelchair and my father is a political animal. They had to put up with all of that after I had lost my seat which wasn’t easy.

“At the end of the day I’m a human being behind it all, I’m not a machine.”

Mr Moran said the only way to clamp down on social media detractors was through tighter and more stringent legislation, something which he contended could be gleaned from the ongoing public health emergency.

“I don’t blame Facebook or Whatsapp and these types of social media platforms,” he said.

“I blame the people (posting abuse on those forums). One thing we have learned in this pandemic is that when people are fined (public health guideline breaches) stop.

“If we can come up with a similar mechanism like that because every organisation that has a Facebook page needs to take a good, close look at the people that are attached to it and what is being said on those pages.”

Mr Moran was backed in his calls for tougher laws on social media from Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty, one of his Leinster House successors and a politician who has also fallen foul to internet mud-slinging in the recent past.

“When anyone goes into politics, there is that prospect of being left open to criticism,” he said.

“I have got great empathy and sympathy for ‘Boxer’ Moran who was an excellent public representative and who was someone who did a lot of good for Longford.

“But people need to be conscious of when they put something on social media of the consequences it has for that person and their family.”