Glasgow has been in a state of collective despair over the last week, as the city comes to terms with the tragic loss of Karen Buckley. People have, naturally, wanted to demonstrate both their shock at what happened, and show support for Karen’s family and friends at this difficult time.
Hundreds turned out to a vigil in George Square on Friday evening, while other events are set to be held in the coming days. Over 22,000 people have also liked a Facebook page called “R.I.P. Karen Buckley”, which states it has been set up to allow the public to leave messages of condolence.
However, we can reveal that the man behind this Facebook page is a bigot with links to the UDA, who was jailed for 14 months in 2012 after waging an online hate campaign against then Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Following his sentence, David Craig, 27, moved to Belfast but was chased out after provoking the ire of “UDA terror chiefs” for sharing photos of a paramilitary show of strength on his Facebook page.
Craig has form in this area. Last December, in the hours following the George Square bin lorry crash – which resulted in the loss of six lives – Craig set up a tribute page on Facebook, garnering thousands of likes. At the time, this provoked controversy, with Craig eventually staying away from a vigil in the Square after less palatable aspects of his past were exposed. Clearly, he hasn’t learnt any lessons from then.
We don’t know what Craig’s motivations were in setting up his most recent memorial page. But there are certainly questions to be raised about his self-appointed role as moral arbiter of Glasgow’s conscience. There’s something messed up with the exploiting of a city’s grief with generic, nondescript tribute pages, entirely unaccountable to anyone except the person who set them up. Facebook likes are a valuable commodity, and the sinister side of this was seen recently when the Clutha Trust had to fight to gain control of a 100k+ “‘Support for the Clutha Helicopter Crash” page that was sold on to viral advertisers.
It’s entirely understandable that people want to show their shock, sympathy and grief over the tragic events of the past week. We would, however, urge caution in doing so through a media platform controlled by David Craig.