Belfast Telegraph

Party's online Brexit adverts 'targeted to voters outside NI'

By Staff Reporter

Online adverts from the DUP during the Brexit referendum campaign had far more reach into England, Scotland and Wales than they did in Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

It follows an analysis of Facebook data released by the parliamentary inquiry into Fake News by the openDemocracy political website.

The DUP adverts included an image saying a Leave vote would be "better for our borders".

Another said "better for jobs", "better for family budgets" and "better for security".

They were seen up to 4.7 million times in England, Scotland and Wales, but only up to 860,000 times in Northern Ireland, according to openDemocracy's calculations.

The adverts were arranged by firm AggregateIQ and funded with a £435,000 donation.

It has previously emerged how the DUP funded pro-Brexit posters in Scotland and a wrap-around advert in the newspaper Metro.

The paper is distributed across England, Scotland and Wales but not in Northern Ireland.

The £435,000 donation came to the party via a group called the Constitutional Research Council, which is chaired by Richard Cook, former vice-chair of the Scottish Conservatives.

Alliance leader Naomi Long raised concerns about the adverts.

She said: "With the DUP's messaging in this social media campaign, particularly around 'securing borders' and their targeting strategy geared more towards a Great Britain rather than Northern Ireland audience, questions must be asked as to why precisely these were chosen and whether the large campaign donation which they received from the Constitutional Research Council came with any direction as to how the money should be spent and where.

"This is just one of many concerns which have been aired around the DUP's alleged conduct during the referendum, as well as the wider campaign.

"The Electoral Commission should be looking closely at these figures and following up to ensure full transparency."

The DUP did not respond when asked for comment last night.

Belfast Telegraph

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