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Fine Gael complains to Facebook over ads for website targeting Maria Walsh and 'the homosexual lifestyle'

The website is designed to look like a campaign site in favour of the Walsh’s candidacy but instead casts her in a negative light.

Midlands North-West candidate Maria Walsh.
Midlands North-West candidate Maria Walsh.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

FINE GAEL IS requesting that Google and Facebook remove ads directing people to a website targeting European election candidate Maria Walsh.

The website is designed to look like a campaign site in favour of the Walsh’s candidacy but instead casts her in a negative light.

The website is found at a web address similar to the candidate’s mariawalsh.eu website.

The website’s homepage says that it “is not affiliated to Maria Walsh’s campaign”.

The homepage states: “Maria Walsh is running for MEP. But before you vote for her, make sure that you know what she stands for.”

The website specifically targets Walsh for her work as an LGBT advocate and says that she has used the term homophobia “as a weapon”.

“The word ‘homophobia’ is just one of the ways in which LGBT activists force those of Christian belief to give official recognition to their lifestyle,” the website states.

The website quotes an Irish Times interview with Walsh in which she says she will “ruffle feathers” of traditional Fine Gael voters.

The website claims this translates as a promise by Walsh to go after “traditional values”.

“Maria has made clear that her aims include to annoy those who, because of conservative beliefs, cannot approve of the homosexual lifestyle,” the website states.

PastedImage-50596 An ad for the website shared online. Source: Twitter

Links to the website have been shared on social media and there are also Facebook ads promoting it online.

Fine Gael has now asked that they be removed.

A representative of Walsh’s campaign told TheJournal.ie this evening that Oireachtas Communications Committee chairperson Hildegarde Naughton is to meet with representatives from Google and Facebook about the ads.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard, who also sits on the committee, said this evening that the Facebook ad for the website should not be allowed.

“Social media is a powerful tool for political debate and we have seen that throughout this debate. However ads like this are supposed to be subject to very specific transparency rules – which don’t seem to have worked in this case,” he said.

“We hear a lot of talk from Facebook about their commitment to protecting elections here and around the world but they need to put their money where their mouth is now and take decisive action.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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