A DISSIDENT republican propaganda site on the internet condemned last week after posting a sick joke about the murder of prison officer David Black has also posted vicious attacks on relatives and friends of victims of republican violence in Londonderry.
The website, to be found on Facebook, has in the past largely been used to promote dissident republican literature and viewpoints and to launch vicious verbal broadsides at Sinn Fein.
It also voices support for the new ‘IRA’ which has claimed responsibility for the murder of Mr Black. The so-called ‘IRA’ is made up of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and various unaligned micro groups. The site also makes offensive sectarian comments, and contains a host of malicious, personal attacks against victims of dissident republican violence, their families and friends including in Londonderry.
While the identity of the site operator is anonymous, prominent dissident republicans have often posted replies to some of the comments.
‘Friends’ of the Facebook site have also been waging a propaganda war against families and friends of people who have been victims of dissident republican violence, indulging in smear campaigns, in an apparent effort to spread misinformation and to provoke trouble.
While the website itself has been used to publicly abuse anyone defending victims, some of the site’s friends have been engaged in insidious smear campaigns, sending private messages to people under false names, making wild allegations.
In some cases they pretend to be acting out of concern for the person messaged, making unsubstantiated allegations about some of the victim’s friends.
But a new low was reached last week when, on the eve of the funeral in Cookstown of Mr Black, who was gunned down on the M1 as he made his way to work at Maghaberry prison, the website posted an offensive joke about his death.
The dissident republican site also referred to the Black family’s request for Sinn Fein members to stay away from Tuesday’s funeral, adding: “Now McGuinness will tell all who will listen to him how Catholics and Protestants walk around hand in hand blowing bubbles when the dogs in the streets know the real truth. Orange Order loyalist vermin RUC/PSNI and Sinn Fein treating Catholics/ nationalists as second class.”
Gregory Campbell said then that the website showed up the mentality of the dissidents trying to wreck the peace process.
He said: “There was fairly widespread and comprehensive revulsion from every section of society at the murder of David Black, and there was nobody who even attempted to publicly defend it or excuse it. When people would have witnessed the scenes at the funeral everyone would have shared in some degree in their grief.
“Then we get a person or a group who, despite all that, appear to be glorying in the killing in a cold-blooded sectarian way.”
Mr Campbell said this behaviour and mentality, despite being the mindset of a very small group, underscores the distance that Northern Ireland has yet to travel in the political process.
He himself was last year the subject of a hate-filled rant on a facebook site, which resulted in a man being prosecuted.