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Senator Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fail

Clare senator: ‘I don’t cancel people who disagree with me’

DEPUTY Timmy Dooley has said he stands over his decision to post a photo on social media of members of a drag hunt last weekend, writes Fiona McGarry.

That is despite the controversy that erupted on his Facebook page in the aftermath. The post, which commented that it was great to see people out on a bright winter afternoon, generated 219 comments and 274 other responses.

“Unlike others, I don’t delete posts or cancel people who disagree with me,” Deputy Dooley told The Champion.

“I’m not into hunting myself and have never been to a hunt, but there are people who are involved. Equally, there are others who hold a different view.

“I’m delighted that my Facebook page was able to facilitate a debate between people of different opinions, because we need to be open to debate.

“This could have just as easily been a discussion on local radio. Social media is another place where people go to air their views.”

When asked about concerns raised that people missed the fact the riders were involved in a drag hunt, which does not involve following a live animal, Deputy Dooley said he didn’t post the picture to comment on hunting, one way or another.

Explaining the background to the photo, Deputy Dooley said: “I was working last Sunday and pulled over in the car to let a group of riders past. I took a picture because it was great to see people out enjoying the fine winter weather.

“I wasn’t passing any comment whatsoever on the practice of hunting, whether that’s drag hunting or otherwise. There are people who participate and that’s their business. From my perspective, it was a nice picture and nice to see people out and about.”

The Mountshannon native said that he received far more positive responses (236) than negative ones (30). In respect of the intense commentary that surrounded the posting of the image, Deputy Dooley described much of it as “over and back between people”.

In respect of the tone of the online discussion, Deputy Dooley said: “I don’t think the anger was aimed at me. I think the focus was on the issue of hunting, whether that’s drag hunting or otherwise.

“There are people who don’t like any kind of hunting. I get it. I’m delighted that my page is a forum where debate can happen. I welcome debate on my page,” he added.

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