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'I am not going to stay in country where this is allowed': Couple from supermarket ad leave Ireland after online abuse

A death threat was made against the couple after speaking out last week.

Fiona Ryan and her fiance Jonathan Mathis had left Ireland after receiving death threats against them after they appeared in a Lidl advert.
Fiona Ryan and her fiance Jonathan Mathis had left Ireland after receiving death threats against them after they appeared in a Lidl advert.
Image: FRTE The Late Late Show

A COUPLE WHO were the subject of online abuse after appearing in an advertising campaign for a supermarket chain have left Ireland after receiving a death threat against them.

Fiona Ryan (33), her fiance Jonathan Mathis (32) and their 22-month-old son Jonah feature in a current television and billboard campaign for Lidl.

The couple were the subject of a number of abusive online posts with racist and insulting comments made against them after they featured in the advert. 

The couple appeared on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show last night to speak about their ordeal which has resulted in them fleeing the country.

Presenter Ryan Tubridy read out one of the Twitter comments about the ad:

“German dump @lidl_ireland gaslighting the Irish people with their multicultural version of ‘The Ryans’. Kidding no-one! Resist the Great Replacement wherever you can by giving this kip a wide berth. #ShopIrish #BuyIrish.”

The tweet was sent by Gemma O’Doherty, a former journalist who unsuccessfully sought to run in the presidential election last year.

Several people commented underneath the post – many people defended the family but others directed racist and insulting comments towards them.

‘Harrowing few days’ 

Fiona and Jonathan told Tubridy that since speaking out about the online abuse last week, they have had a “harrowing” few days. 

The couple said they have left Ireland due to a death threat that was made against them. 

“I felt like we needed to leave,” said Fiona. 

Getting visibly upset, she said the death threat was made against her, her husband and her baby. 

“It was directed at Jonah as well,” she said, adding: 

I am not going to stay in country where this is allowed.

The couple called for more regulations on the large social media companies, stating that “they are not doing what they should be doing”. 

Jonathan said they operating like it is “the wild west”. 

Speaking further about the online abuse they received after taking part in the advert, Fiona said she didn’t think taking part in a commercial would bring so much attention. 

Fiona said she found out about the tweet when the producer of the Lidl TV advert called her. 

“I got so upset and angry these people are looking at my child and saying all this hurtful stuff,” she said, adding that she was “shook up”.

“It is sick I can’t believe people have this view after everything,” said Fiona, who said they couple have decided to speak out about their experience in order to bring about change. 

“I can’t feel like this and do nothing with it,” she said. 

Having gone to the gardaí about the abuse, Fiona said she was dismayed when she was told this is a civil matter and there was nothing the gardái could do about it. 

In order to make a case to the gardaí, she had to scroll through all the abusive tweets and take screenshots to gather the evidence.

“No one should be subjected to that stuff,” she said. 

Racist abuse

While Fiona said she has never received such abuse, Jonathan said it is something he has experienced before. 

“I have had it all my life,” he said, adding that it has been “a theme throughout my life, almost become normal”.

Either once or twice a year someone will say something hateful him because of the colour of his skin, he said. 

“These people don’t care, they are filled with hate and ignorance,” he added.  

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