Mary Lou McDonald named runner-up to Roman Abramovich at ‘Bully of the Year’ awards for defamation case against RTÉ
Mary Lou McDonald finished second to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in a competition called ‘Bully of the Year’, organized by an organization that campaigns against powerful individuals using defamation laws to silence critics.
he Sinn Féin leader was nominated for the award alongside several oligarchs, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ms McDonald was the only female nominee for the People’s Choice Bully of the Year award.
On Tuesday, she led the poll with 28% of the public vote. However, former Chelsea FC owner Abramovich eventually won the top prize with 55% of the vote, compared to leaders Sinn Féin’s 41%.
The awards are organized by the European organization Coalition Against Slapps in Europe (Case), which opposes powerful people bringing strategic lawsuits against public participation (Slapps).
Ms McDonald also came second in the ‘Slapp Politician of the Year’ category.
The organization’s website said the award would be given to a “politician who has proven most dependent on Slapps and legal intimidation to respond to opposition, dissent or accountability efforts. “.
Her biography for the nomination says Ms McDonald is “not new to the Slapp scene”, but said her recent case against RTÉ “cemented” her reputation as a politician who uses defamation laws to her advantage.
She faced Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Greek politician Grigoris Dimitriadis, with Mr Dimitriadis winning.
Other winners of the evening included Yevgeny Prigozhin – also known as the leader of Vladimir Putin – who was named Oppressive Oligarch of the Year, and Kingdom of Morocco for Cross-Border Bully of the Year – a category that highlights the “most brazen efforts to use courts in different countries to silence a public watchdog”.
Earlier this year, the Index on Censorship, which campaigns for free speech, contacted the Council of Europe over Ms McDonald’s case against RTÉ, which involved the IRA rape victim Máiría Cahill, claiming she was a threat to freedom of expression in Ireland.
Jessica Ní Mhainín, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Index on Censorship, said: “We are alarmed by the legal action brought against RTÉ by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, as we believe this action is characteristic of a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or Claque.
Sinn Féin’s press office declined to answer questions about the appointment.