Monday, May 20, 2013


Fr. Tony Flannery took to Twitter on 7th of June 2011 and was happily tweeting away until the 13th of March 2012 when he more or less lost interest and the account lay dormant until quite recently.

Meanwhile, Fr. Tony was preoccupied with his persecution by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or the Inquisition as it was formerly and rightly known).

Then, suddenly out of nowhere, the above imposter made his/her appearance pretending to be Fr. Tony. This turned out to be not a spoof account satirising or poking fun at Fr. Tony, but a real attempt to pretend to be him and in the process discredit him and give the impression that he had lost his marbles.

I have reproduced four of the imposter's sixteen tweets above to give an idea of the subtle way Fr. Tony was being undermined. The imposter gradually accumulated 12 followers, among which myself and the CofI Bishop of Cork (forgive me Bishop if I'm wrong). These followers believed they were following Fr. Tony. I certainly did. But I got a bit suspicious as it was clear that Fr. Tony either was losing it or there was something else going on here.

If you look at the tweets above (reading down from the top) you'll see an innocuous introduction (5 Feb) followed some days later (11 Feb) by an endorsement of Hans Kung for Pope, an evangelistic lauding of the theme of LOVE in capital letters, and a serious poke at the CDF. This is followed a month later (11 Apr) by an implication that Fr. Tony is thick in with the Freemasons, and finally a tweet (11 May) in which Fr. Tony outs himself as a political activist, a brother of Frank Flannery who is and was for many years prominent in Fine Gael, and threatens the Church authorities that if they excommunicate any of those in Fine Gael, he will go on hunger strike.

This refers to Church disapproval of the stance taken by Enda Kenny and Fine Gael in the abortion debate. The Government have decided that they are obliged to legislate for limited abortion following a Supreme Court constitutional decision a good while back. Various clerics have made threats of excommunication and Cardinal O'Malley of Boston has even refused to appear on the same platform as Enda Kenny whom he sees as "aggressively promoting abortion". There is also an implication, lurking in the background, that Fr. Tony may have had something to do with Enda's anti-Vatican speech in July of last year.

The threatened hunger strike must be the first between meals hunger strike in history.

Needless to say, when Fr. Tony became aware of this he was alarmed and appealed for help through the website of the Association of Catholic Priests, of which he is a founder member. He was immediately well advised by contributors to that site, following which he took up the matter with Twitter, who have now suspended the imposter's account.

I am pleased to see that Fr. Tony has now returned to tweeting about very serious matters, like the state of the Galway football team, and, if you want to follow him, his account is shown below.


  1. Brendan CaffertyMay 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Yes,sums it up well. I too was taken in by this fake account and frankly thought that Tony was pushing the boat out a bit too far.What alerted me to the fact that something was wrong was when Tony allegedly said he would go on hunger strike for three hours for three days if politicians were excommunicated from the church.There was something sinister about that, not being any effort to fast for three hours ! There were other mocks tweets about election of Pope, LOVE etc as you say all designed to make Tony look foolish. This was no ordinary practical joker, but some deep thinker out of the catholic right I would say. It just takes some neck, and I hope (s)he is outed, although it takes a court order to do as far as I know. There is also possibility such a creature may have set it up anonymously from an internet cafe or other public place.

  2. @Brendan

    I'm glad the matter has been resolved. It was very disturbing and not just for Tony.

    I had emailed him in response to his appeal on the ACP site. At the time there were no replies and I thought email better in case the imposter became forewarned by the advice offered.

    All I said was the same advice as later appeared on the site. However, I did suggest that Tony try for an account authentication mark. It is usually given by Twitter to celebrities who have proven their identity to distinguish them from any imposters or spoof accounts. As Tony has already presumably gone through all the necessary identification formalities it would be helpful if he got a mark. His account could then be definitively to any newcomers (or the CDF!) if there were to be any more imposters or spoof accounts.

    If you have any influence with him, you might remind him about this. It could save a lot of hassle in the future.