Oh, Happy Day: The Downfall of Chris Andrews

Reading the Sunday Independent this morning nearly caused me to die from laughter. It appears that one of the most odious men in Irish politics, Chris Andrews of Fianna Fail, has been drummed out of his party after an elaborate sting operation exposed him as the man behind the fake Twitter profile @brianformerff. The account was dedicated to attacking Fianna Fail.

I have waited a long time for this idiot’s online nonsense to properly catch up with him. I initially took issue with a tweet that reeked of anti-Semitism. I was willing to give Andrews the benefit of the doubt and put it down to populist Israel-bashing rather than anti-Semitism. Delving deeper into the activities of Andrews uncovered darker things, however. My own blog happened to be the first website to disseminate a picture of him being quite chummy with Mr. Assad of Syria (see above). This was actually in a leaflet sent to his constituents, and one of them passed it to me.

The story of how Andrews was exposed this weekend reads like  a great espionage or detective novel. Consensus at the moment seems to be that this was all done by some opponents within Fianna Fail. When the party finally disbands, many of its adherents might just find work in G-2, the Garda Security and Intelligence Branch, or private investigations. According to the Sindo (Ireland’s best newspaper, in my humble opinion), the sleuth behind this:

[S]pent months tracking down the identity in what almost became a personal crusade and used ingenious IT techniques.

The author used a third party service called SnapBird.org which records every tweet posted indefinitely, even after they have been deleted.

He used SnapBird to recover a complete transcript of @brianformerff tweets which included messages sent in response to tweets posted by a range of newspaper and broadcast journalists, RTE and Newstalk Twitter accounts.

He discovered that each tweet had originated from the Twitter web interface, meaning it had been posted from a web browser on a computer, rather than sent from a mobile phone or other portable device.

Based on the times that tweets were posted by @brianformerff, he deduced that the Tweets were being posted while the user was on a work break, using a company computer or an internet cafe.

The next stage in the hunt was uncovering the IP address of the computer where the tweets originated.

“I created my own web redirection service which would allow me to take links to articles of interest, for example in the Irish Times, and then transform them into short links that would pass through a redirection server I controlled. In this way, if someone read the tweets and clicked on the link, I would be able to establish the IP address of the computer that was being used at the time.”

The author created a new twitter account, @john_cant _type, based on the persona of a politics student based in Kildare. He started sending several messages and tweets to “brian” and other users to establish himself as a genuine twitter user.

Eventually @brianformerff responded to a post from @john_cant_type to a link to an article at Silicon Republic. The bait was taken and the IP address was tracked to an internet cafe, Amazon cyber/net Rathmines which offers web access “at the very reasonable rate of €1/hour”.

What happened next descended almost into the realms of farce. The author waited for tweets from @brianformerff and then rushed to the internet cafe to try and catch Chris Andrews. Eventually the plan worked and the author used photography and video surveillance, even taking covert photographs of tweets as they were being posted in the internet cafe by Chris Andrews and analysing if the word count and structure matched the tweets appearing in cyberspace under the tag @brianformerff.

They did.

Many of the tweets are comedy gold. In one exchange with Sarah Ryan, a rival of Andrews within Fianna Fail, he says:

‎”FF say they want change from past but they still elect to continue dynasties like @SarahCatRyan to internal positions in party!!”

This is coming from Chris Andrews: grandson of Todd Andrews, son of Niall Andrews and his nephew of David Andrews. Oh, and cousin of Barry Andrews. He is the fourth member of his family to sit in the Dáil. If he has any work history prior to entering politics, he has never revealed it.

Others tweets are more childish:

‎”@CllrMcGuinness You left FF because you tried to get a job using the party and that effort failed now cop on to yourself!”

“@CllrMcGuinness How is the drinking going are you still trying to get off it?”

Pride of his family, Chris is.

Trawling through these tweets, it just seems like the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you for the laughter, Chris Andrews.


About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

18 Responses to Oh, Happy Day: The Downfall of Chris Andrews

  1. What a clown! Daddy’s boy tries to troll behind a computer monitor, fails hard, and then rage quits entirely from the party!

  2. Paul K says:

    I found your website on foot of the Chris Andrews debacle. I’m delighted to see this anti Israel clown taken down, and pleased to see someone else in Ireland who supports Israel. However the more I read of your blog the more I see that you are as bad as the PLO lefty types in Ireland. Your hysterical screeds on Obama etc lack all balance, are paranoid and delusiona and have the intellectual honesty of Fox News. Your belief in conspiracy theories is very disappointing. If supporting Israel in Ireland means aligning myself with you then I won’t bother.

    • Well, first of all thanks for commenting.

      I don’t see why supporting Israel in Ireland means you have to align your views on Obama or whatever figure with mine, or even associate with me. I’m involved in the Zionist movement and the the great bogeyman that is the ‘Israel Lobby’. I work with folks across a wide spectrum of opinion, and believe me, most don’t share my line on the majority of issues. When talking about Israel, I don’t preach what I feel about every other subject. If you think Obama’s electoral record is clean, fine by me, as long as we are helping Israel. Our movement should be a big tent, to the exclusion of some particularly nasty types. And we should be vigilant about that, in the way the Palestine Solidarity camp isn’t when it comes to Islamists or serious nut-jobs like Gilad Atzmon.

      I would like to know what is it you disagree with me about on Obama, though.

      • Paul K says:

        are you kidding? I just had another look, and it’s even worse that the page I initially came across. The linking of joke candidate Cain to Obama was amusing, since anyone with a brain knew Cain would never win the nomination – his Republican rivals would see to that. The nonsense about the CIA/Obama’s mother and the supposed “black mobs” in Philly mark you out as a deluded and paranoid individual. I mean really, comparing the Obamacare stuff with Soviet Russia is real adolescent dross.

        I’m embarrassed that you teach at my (undergraduate) University, it really underlines the poor calibre of the academic staff in Irish academia. Luckily I had the opportunity to broaden my horizons abroad later on.

        BTW I’ve spent years in the US, I still work in the financial markets and I’d love it if we had some intellectually coherent pro market types in Ireland (especially since the PDs imploded., not that they understand economics anyway). I subscribe to the WSJ and read Cato stuff all the time, I’d suggest you stop embarrassing yourself and do similar.

      • What’s nonsense about the New Black Panthers intimidating white voters in Philly? Ever read respected economists and social commentators like Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams? Because they’ve written about it also. And where do I directly compare Obamacare with the Soviet system? Obamacare is a rotten idea. Here’s a quick guide to what I think are its biggest problems: https://thesystemworks.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/thoughts-on-obamacare-or-why-we-are-all-doomed/. I never say its the same as the system used in the Soviet Union.

        I don’t teach at a university, I am a part-time postgrad student and work a full-time non-teaching job.

        I was in the PDs as an undergraduate. Some interesting folks, but mostly unremarkable, I would agree.

        I also read the Wall Street Journal. I got the Weekend Edition every week for about two years in college. I read Cato stuff and subscribe to their podcasts. I subscribe to Reason Magazine. I briefly subscribed to National Review, but I cancelled it after they fired John Derbyshire. I’m also, for balance, a regular reader of the New Yorker. More recently, I’ve been reading City Journal a lot (an absolutely fantastic, smart, and right-leaning publication).

        I’m not backing down on this Cain issue, though. Its just too fishy.

      • Paul K says:

        Pretending that voter intimidation at a local station in Philly is significant or national issue is simply not true. By all means prosecute at local level but bringing Holder into it is ginning it up, Glen Beck style.

        As I’m sure you know the Heritage Foundation came up with the intellectual basis for Obamacare. Why do you pretend otherwise. At the moment the uninsured show up at emergency rooms and the public pay, what is your solution to this. Pretending the US has an efficient health care system given the % GDP it consumes requires suspension of disbelief and a healthy dose of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

      • I’m not ‘pretending’ Obamacare doesn’t have roots with Mitt Romney or Heritage. If an idea is bad, I don’t care where it comes from, I’ll attack it. RomneyCare is incredibly stupid and I’ve never said anything good about Mitt Romney here. I’m not so partisan to believe that everything Heritage says must be sound. Though as far as I’m aware, neither Heritage or Cato are backing Obamacare.

        Neither have I ever said the US has an efficient healthcare system at present. I believe its a disaster and has been going downhill since WWII and the increasing reliance on third-party payment for routine care. And its gotten worse under Bush with highly expensive things like Medicare Part D. I don’t think every uninsured patient got thrown out onto the street prior to the Roosevelt era.

      • Paul K says:

        ah, feck it. I’m clearly not going to change your mind.

        Just know that your Internet wingnut act is damaging the cause of Israel in Ireland.

      • Paul K says:

        OK so you think it has flaws. Fair enough. Do you attack every Heritage proposal you disagree with using Soviet imagery. No you don’t! Because you are a wingnut!

      • I attacked Obamacare on the grounds that it is not fiscally feasible, perverts what insurance actually is supposed to do, and that it will turn every large insurance corporation into the equivalent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I made no comparisons with the Soviet system. It actually exacerbates problems that have existed in the American healthcare system for decades.

  3. Paul K says:

    You obviously don’t know much about Freddie Mac/ Fannie Mae.

    The images on other posts shows soviet imagery mixed with medical imagery. Or perhaps you copied that from another nut job website.

    Are you a member of Irish Friends of Israel? I see their letters in the Irish Times.

    • If insurers are incentivised or compelled to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age and geographical location – without regard to most pre-existing conditions – the results will be the same as the sub-prime mortgage and NINJA-loans fiasco. You are going against the laws of the market and common sense. Insurance corporations will inevitably turn into entities similar to Fannie and Freddie, requiring permanent bailouts and favours from Washington to survive.

  4. Paul K says:

    you really think this is intelligent comment?

  5. Paul K says:

    your ramblings about the CIA disgust me. You’re as bad as those who proclaim that shady Jews control the worlds financial system.

    • The CIA has done some pretty messed up things, and some of it very much against Israel’s interests. They funded, trained and encouraged parts of the PLO. See the writings of John Loftus to see how they put Big Oil far ahead of Israel.

  6. ArtfulEye says:

    So much of a downfall. In the time since, he was re-elected to Dublin City Council (topped the poll) and will probably be returning to the Dail.

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