Most of Ireland supports mixed-race couple, says councillor who suffered racist abuse

Most of Ireland supports mixed-race couple, says councillor who suffered racist abuse
Hazel Chu.

Update: A Green Party councillor in Dublin, who has been the victim of racist abuse on social media, has come out in support of a mixed race couple.

The couple suffered racist abuse online after appearing in the latest Lidl ad campaign.

Hazel Chu was the victim of racist abuse also after she took part in an anti-racism rally outside Google's headquarter's in Dublin last month calling for Gardaí to enforce hate speech legislation.

At that rally she detailed how she had been targeted on Twitter and through phone calls.

Today, she tweeted her support for Fiona Ryan and Jonathan Mathis, saying comments about the couple are "racist" and "wrong".

In her tweet she said: "Those posting such comments, it's not just your opinion, it's racist & it's wrong.

"As someone who's been called every name & has a fiancé being called a race traitor & a child labelled a mongrel my heart & support is with the Ryans, so's most of Ireland."

Earlier: Mixed-race couple 'shaking' after online abuse in response to Lidl ad campaign

A mixed-race couple have been the subject of racist abuse online after appearing in the latest Lidl ad campaign.

Fiona Ryan and her fiance Jonathan Mathis, who live in Co Meath, are considering leaving the country after they had to tell gardaí four times that the online abuse was an attack on their family when they reported it.

Fiona told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke this morning that she was phoned by the producer of the TV commercial earlier this month to alert her to a tweet sent by former journalist Gemma O'Doherty. The producer told her: "We wanted you to hear it from us first."

Ms O’Doherty's tweet on September 7 said: “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.”

Fiona and Jonathan, who is originally from Brazil and grew up in the UK, also feature on a billboard ad which was launched earlier this month.

Fiona said: "When I first saw (the comments on Twitter) I was shaking... I couldn't believe that someone would take a picture of us and look at it negatively."

As more and more comments were tweeted, Fiona collated the tweets and went to the gardaí.

Fiona Ryan, Jonathan Mathis and their 22-month-old son in the Lidl ad campaign. Pic: via YouTube
Fiona Ryan, Jonathan Mathis and their 22-month-old son in the Lidl ad campaign. Pic: via YouTube

She said: "I had to insist, like, four times that this was an attack on my family."

Lidl reported the tweets to Twitter, asking for the tweets to be removed, which the social media firm did.

They said: “We have decided to block and report (Gemma O’Doherty) to @Twitter . . . We are contacting the Ryan family regarding this online abuse and will be providing support after this unprovoked attack.”

Now, Fiona is considering leaving the country as she does not want her 22-month-old son to grow up in a country "that doesn't protect his human civil right to be who he is ....Of course I'm not going to live and stay in a country that does that to my child".

She also told Sean that her fiance Jonathan was really hurt that their child was brought into the abuse, saying: "We need change and we feel like it's our duty to help that happen in Ireland."

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality, Immigration and Integration, Fiona O’Loughlin said the fact that there was no legislation in Ireland requiring a court to take a hate element into account when determining the appropriate sanction, was unacceptable.

She said it sends a message that our legal system is not reflecting the reality of life here.

She said: “It shouldn’t take the plight of a mixed-race couple being persecuted online for participating in an advertising campaign for hate crime to be taken seriously.

“Ireland is out of step in not having specific hate crime laws and we are leaving vulnerable groups, such as those from ethnic minorities, members of the LGBT community, or the travelling community, without proper protections.

She called on the Government to progress the Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill to combat hate crime.

She said: “Under this Bill, if someone is convicted of an offence that is aggravated by prejudice or hatred, then this must be taken into account when sentencing. I am hopeful it will also improve the reporting and recording of hate crime which is generally considered to be under reported.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, legislation is in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. This should be more of a priority for this Government and I am calling on them to progress the Fianna Fáil Bill.”

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