A mixed-race couple in a Lidl advert have had to leave the country after racist abuse

Jennifer Savin
Photo credit: Youtube/Lidl Ireland

From Cosmopolitan

Mixed race couple Fiona Ryan, 33, and her fiancé Jonathan Mathis, 32, have fled Ireland after receiving racist abuse and threatening comments following their appearance in an ad campaign for Lidl Ireland. Some messages were aimed at their young son, Jonah, who is 22 months old.

Leading the way with the horrible messages is "journalist" Gemma O’Doherty (who by the sounds of it is essentially an Irish version of Katie Hopkins, known more for spouting vitriol than anything else).

Gemma’s tweet, according to Irish broadcaster RTÉ, read, “German dump Lidl 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 has said that since then, she logged onto Twitter herself and saw a whole host of other worrying and negative comments aimed at her family that left her “physically shaking”.

"When I read through them I was pretty shaken. I feared for my safety and my son's safety. It was pretty harrowing, and I don't think anyone should be subjected to that kind of online abuse."

Fiona later went to the gardaí (the Irish police) with a number of screenshots, only to be told that it was a civil matter. Fiona followed up again a few days later and says she has now been assigned an investigative officer. The couple have since travelled to Britain and say their experience only highlights a bigger problem within the country.

"I was so shaken I broke down in tears. It was the last straw and, yes, we decided we really need to lay low, to leave. We booked flights. We just thought, could they actually find us if we stay where we are?" Fiona told Irish media. "If my 22-month-old son has to live in a country that doesn't protect his right to be who he is, then I'm not going to live in a country that does that to my child."

Photo credit: YouTube/Lidl Ireland

Lidl Ireland has spoken out in support of the couple and against Gemma O’Doherty, as have many other Twitter users: “After offensive and racist tweets from Gemma O’Doherty we have decided to block and report her to @Twitter . We are proud of our multicultural & diverse team and our customers. We are proud to work with, and serve, each and every one of them. Everyone is welcome in our store.”

We wish Fiona, Jonathan and their family every support during this difficult time and hope that the offending trolls are dealt with appropriately.

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