AN IRISH woman has spoken out about how vile sectarianism forced her to live a life of secrecy for more than a year.
Scottish-based Angela Haggerty has had to take special measures to conceal her identity ever since she became the target of vicious and sustained anti-Irish abuse online.
The 27-year-old came to the attention of a racist mob after an unofficial Rangers podcast branded her ‘Taig of the Day’ in September last year.
But after 15 months living with the fear she might be physically assaulted, Ms Haggerty spoke of her relief this week after discovering the show’s host had been convicted of racially-aggravated abuse.
“I’ve made changes to the way I live my life as a result of the abuse online,” the Glasgow-based journalist said.
“I feel so aware that there are people out there who despise me because of my work and my identity that it’s a real fear I might run into any one of them who would be happy to take that hate further in person.”
David Limond, who targeted Ms Haggerty in his Rangers Chat show, was found guilty on December 6 of sending a threatening communication aggravated by “racial and religious prejudice”.
The 41-year-old, of Viewfield Court, Ayr, Ayrshire, was convicted at Ayr Sheriff Court following a two-day trial. He will be sentenced on January 9.
In a podcast broadcast in September 2012, Limond verbally abused Ms Haggerty in his show’s ‘Taig of the Day’ segment and labelled her a “provo”.
He then gave out her Twitter details, encouraging listeners to “hit her with everything you’ve got”.
“She’s got to get bang, bang, bang,” he added.
Ms Haggerty came to the attention of Limond after publishing a blog that defended a book by Irish journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, which she edited, charting the financial collapse of Rangers Football Club.
Ms Haggerty said it felt like a “huge weight” was lifted off her shoulders when she learnt of Limond’s conviction.
“I still feel the sense of relief now that it is over and that it was a guilty verdict,” she added.
“My fear was that if it had not been a guilty verdict, the stuff I had already been receiving would have spiralled even further because it would have been as good as saying this is okay.”
Referring to the parcel bombs sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, the late Paul McBride QC and former MSP Trish Godman, she added: “When you know it has become that serious for other people, you can’t help but be concerned about how serious it might become for you.”
In an interview with The Irish Post, Ms Haggerty painted a stark picture of how the abuse has affected her.
Explaining that it has made paranoia a constant presence in her life, she listed the many precautions she feels compelled to take to keep her identity secret.
That includes giving fake names when doing everyday tasks like booking a haircut or a taxi.
Ms Haggerty has also had to avoid publishing any information about her whereabouts on social media in case someone might try to abuse her in person.
As well as being a constant reminder that the “carefree” life she previously enjoyed is no longer possible, that makes it significantly more difficult for her to do her job.
Ms Haggerty has been the target of an unrelenting stream of online abuse, much of which has been anti-Irish, over the past 15 months.
She said the low-point during that period came in January this year.
“I remember coming home from work and just going straight to bed for several days,” she said.
“It was a few weeks after Limond had been arrested and I knew I had a battle ahead of me if it went to trial.
“I really felt the strain of things and my energy hit a low point. I literally was making it to work and doing not much more.”