Donegal fans the victims of ‘Fake News’

Events in Markievicz Park on Saturday evening may have been bizarre with the substitutions debacle involving Kieran Gillespie and Frank McGlynn, but they have taken an even more bizarre twist with former Donegal manager, Brian McEniff claiming that Rory Gallagher’s father was abused by the Donegal support amid the hammering by Galway.

Writing in the Donegal Democrat following Donegal’s exit from the championship, McEniff claimed that Gerry Gallagher, Rory’s father, was abused by sections of the Donegal support who apparently vented their anger at Donegal’s performance.

“I want to condemn out of hand the abuse suffered by Rory Gallagher’s father, Gerry, at the game on Saturday evening by a number of Donegal supporters,” he writes in the Donegal Democrat.

“I did not see the incident myself but I was made aware of it. If I had seen it I would have intervened because that type of behaviour is totally unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

However, in a twist to the story, Gerry Gallagher tweeted former Donegal player Eamon McGee, to say that he has ‘never been the victim of any verbal abuse from Donegal fans.’

This type of story in the local media does not do any favours to loyal fans of Donegal, who, up until the tweet from Gerry Gallagher, were being accused of shouting abuse at an innocent bystander. Had Gerry not tweeted to contradict the story, we could have had a situation where Donegal’s support were being tarnished unfairly by unfounded accusations.

Serious questions need to be asked as to how these accusations could be printed in a local newspaper when the man in question stated that it was hearsay. “I did not see the incident myself but I was made aware of it.” This is hardly the foundations for a solid story.

At a time when the media worldwide is under attack for what is being described as ‘fake news’ it is imperative that the media do their best to print fact and not rumour. We saw what fake news can do during the presidential election in America with scurrilous stories about Hilary Clinton appearing on Facebook, which many people believed as fact, simply because it appeared in print.

While you cannot compare the presidential election with a situation regarding Donegal GAA, this story is a worrying development for local media in Donegal and one that should be addressed immediately. As a fan who attended the game on Saturday evening, I was angered by the news that Gerry Gallagher had been abused by Donegal supporters but I was livid with the fact that this story had no foundations. As paying customers, every one of the Donegal support, myself included were victims of libellous reporting by the paper and by Brian McEniff.

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