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From #danafacts to #cardiff: top hashtags of the 31st Dáil’s first year

The government’s first year in office has seen Twitter debates over Miss Piggy, print toner and internship schemes.

Image: Maxwells/PA Wire

A FULL YEAR has passed since the 31st Dáil took office under a Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

That first year in government has seen a variety of political discussions by Twitter users – and more than a few parody hashtags poking fun at political events.

From the Queen of England’s visit in May to the fallout of the Cloyne Report’s publication in July, here are some of the top hashtags from the past year in Irish politics:

#jobbridge

The government launched its JobBridge internship programme early last year under which unemployed people will receive an extra €50 a week on top of their social welfare while undertaking work experience with registered employers. Although some support has been shown for the programme, it has been heavily criticised on Twitter as a form of ‘free labour’ for companies – particularly when users of the social networking site saw jobs like these advertised on JobBridge.

#inkgate

One of the more recent hashtags concerning politics in Ireland centred on the revelation that Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh had used more than €50,000-worth of toner in just two years. The toner is supplied free of charge by the Oireachtas.

#cloyne/#papalnuncio

An inquiry into allegations of clerical abuse in the Co Cork diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and early 2000 published its findings in July which were highly critical of how the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Vatican has responded to those complaints. Enda Kenny subsequently issued a speech heavily condemning the “dysfunction and disconnection” of the church. The Vatican also withdrew its Papal Nuncio for consultations (and reposted him to the Czech Republic). A new Papal Nuncio was recently accredited to Ireland.

#misspiggy

Independent TDs Mick Wallace, Shane Ross and Luke Ming Flanagan came under fire after the three were overheard in a conversation in which Wallace referred to Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor as ‘Miss Piggy’. Cue a Twitter trend for #misspiggy comments…

#proudtobeirish/#bettyIE/#queensvisit/#potusIE/ #obamavisit

The separate state visits of Queen Elizabeth and US president Barack Obama generated huge interest both in Ireland and abroad – an interested reflect on Twitter as hashtags charting the trips of May 2011 trended. Tweets tracked the Queen’s visit as she travelled between Dublin, Tipperary and Cork before flying home, while Jedward welcomed President Obama’s arrival by tweeting “Jed we can”. Other tweeters commented on Michelle Obama’s ‘windswept’ arrival in Dublin and voiced relief that Brian Cowen had left office before the visit.

#cardiff/#kevincardiff

Former Department of Finance Secretary General Kevin Cardiff’s nomination and, later, appointment to the European Court of Auditors were widely discussed by Irish Twitter uses given that the nomination came after a hiccup in his nomination when some members of an EU parliamentary committee voted against his appointment.

#aras11

While the #aras11 tag was widely used throughout the months of campaigning ahead of October’s presidential election, a number of other hashtags sprung up throughout the campaigns as various controversies arose, including that Frontline debate tweet and those David Norris letters:

#rtefl

Twitter lit up with comments about that now-infamous tweet referred to during the RTÉ Frontline debate shortly before votes were cast. The tweet came from an account purporting to be the official Martin McGuinness for President account – but wasn’t – and accused Independent candidate Seán Gallagher of being personally involved in Fianna Fáil fundraising. Gallagher’s subsequent complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland was recently upheld, though the BAI said it found no evidence the programme had deliberately attempted to conceal information about the tweet.

#norris/#liveline

Norris hit the hashtag headlines repeatedly throughout the election campaign. In the early days, just as the push for nomination to the election campaign was underway, an interview Norris had made ten years ago in which he made comments regarding paedophilia resurfaced and drew serious controversy around his campaign. Norris continued his run, but later withdrew (temporarily, it turned out) after it emerged he had written clemency appeal letters for his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was convicted by an Israeli court of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy in the 90s.

#danafacts

Shortly after she declared her interest in running for the presidency, #danafacts began to emerge on Twitter offering (non-factual) nuggets such as:

“Dana is short for Dan Ackroyd” (@Doctor_J_)

“If you spam everybody’s timeline with #danafacts on Twitter, Dana will personally relieve you of your eternal soul using only a Dyson” (@colmtoibin)

Dana was also a hot topic on Twitter after a tyre on her campaign car blew out. The candidate and her husband called for an investigation into the incident in case the tyre had been tampered with. Gardaí found no evidence of criminal damage to the tyre.

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