Just over a year ago, radio and TV presenter Eoghan McDermott seemed to have the world at his feet.
The 38-year-old co-hosted a hit show on 2FM and was looking forward to reprising his role as narrator of Love Island Australia. Then he suddenly disappeared from the airwaves and his name and picture were removed from the 2FM website.
The Limerick-born, Dublin-raised DJ, who counted Laura Whitmore and Niall Horan among his celebrity friends, has worked for the channel since 2014 and has presented his breakfast show with Doireann Garrihy for the last two years.
His rise to prominence was gradual. After studying politics at UCD, he moved to New York to study dance with the aim of becoming a choreographer for commercial music videos.
In the end, however, he ended up in broadcasting, initially as a presenter of TG4 Pop4 music program and later as a DJ at the London alternative music station XFM. He became a household name in 2012 when he was named co-host of The Voice of Irelandthe Irish version of the popular reality singing competition The voice.
After a fortnight of speculation about his absence from 2FM, RTÉ issued a statement last March confirming he would not be returning to the station.
No explanation was given, but the reasons were clear to anyone who followed social media. A woman we now know had a relationship with Mr McDermott in 2010 had made allegations of sexual misconduct against him via an anonymous Twitter account and on Reddit.
The claims were not reported by traditional media. Gardaí were aware of the allegations but received no complaint.
Still, Mr McDermott’s career appeared to be over after he became the latest in a growing list of celebrities to be “outed” for allegedly shady behavior online.
video of the day
Except that there has now been a dramatic turn in what has been a deeply troubling and difficult case for all involved.
Earlier this week, Mr McDermott released legal correspondence stating that the woman accepted the allegations she was making were false.
The letter from their solicitors, Mary Cowhey Solicitors, to Mr McDermott’s solicitor, Paul Tweed, was released with their consent.
The law firm said her client accepted that her tweets contained “a number of serious untruths,” that she regretted it and acknowledged the damaging impact on Mr. McDermott and those close to him.
“For the record, our client accepts unreservedly that she was above the age of consent at all times that she and Mr. McDermott met or engaged in a physical relationship,” the letter reads.
Other demands were also withdrawn. These included false allegations that Mr McDermott fled the country following her claims that members of his family were gardaí and that he had been involved in illegal drug use.
The letter said the “inaccuracies are the product of the elapsed time since 2010 and the tweets published” and “arose from an improper reliance on false information provided by third parties.”
It said the woman accepted that Mr McDermott disputed her version of what happened during their relationship.
The episode raises many questions, not least the fact that Irish and European laws do little to prevent the posting of false information on social media or allow such content to be taken down quickly enough to prevent harm. The situation is unlikely to change any time soon, as such concerns were not really addressed in the recently released Department of Justice review of the Defamation Act.
Mr McDermott contacted Twitter to request the removal of the tweets, protesting that they were untrue and defamatory.
However, the social media giant’s stance was that the tweets are the responsibility of the person who posted them. Finally, some time later, they were removed from the woman.
The DJ has launched a defamation case against Twitter in the High Court.
If the lawsuit is to succeed, it would need to break new ground, as social media companies have not been successfully sued in Ireland for posting defamatory material. This is mainly because they could count on hosting immunity provided by the EU’s E-Commerce Directive.
The Policy limits your potential liability for User Generated Material under certain conditions. At the same time, the directive prohibited EU states from imposing a general obligation on them to monitor user-generated content.
Social media companies have also tended to rely on the defense of innocent posting under the defamation law.
Paul Tweed, the veteran defamation attorney who helped broker this week’s retraction, declined to speak about the case. However, he has consistently criticized the stance taken by social media companies that they are mere platforms, not publishers. He argues that they should have the same responsibility for content as traditional media.
In a previous interview, he said: “The bottom line is that there is no deterrent to prevent false information from being published in the first place.
“If the focus was on social media and the search engine giants, they would deploy their algorithms and stop it before it happened. But there is no incentive for them to do it at the moment.”
Despite the recantation, Mr McDermott’s future remains unclear.
RTÉ has yet to say if it will welcome him back.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/he-was-fast-becoming-rtes-golden-boy-but-then-2fms-eoghan-mcdermott-vanished-now-we-know-why-41413918.html He quickly became RTÉ’s golden boy, but then 2FM’s Eoghan McDermott disappeared. Now we know why