Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach did not lobby over restriction of ads: minister

By David Young, PA

An Irish Government minister has rejected claims the Taoiseach lobbied Facebook and Google to restrict adverts related to the country's abortion referendum.

Culture minister Josepha Madigan was responding to an allegation by independent parliamentarian and anti-abortion campaigner Mattie McGrath.

Google announced last week that it is to ban all adverts about the upcoming referendum on Ireland's strict abortion laws.

The move by Google came a day after Facebook announced it would block foreign campaign material on its platform.

Irish data protection commissioner Helen Dixon had previously raised concerns that foreign actors could try to influence the referendum.

Anti-abortion campaigners claim the move represents an attempt to stifle debate.

Mr McGrath said rules on advertising during referenda campaigns should be set by the Irish parliament and should not be left to companies to make their own calls.

He then claimed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had urged the corporations to act.

"The people can see what's going on - they don't trust the government," he told RTE's The Week In Politics.

Minister Madigan, who also appeared on the programme, said she "absolutely" denied the claim.

"I'd like to see the evidence of that, deputy McGrath - that is a really strong allegation to make," she added. "The corporations made these decisions quite rightly by themselves and we welcome them overall."

Belfast Telegraph

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