What is Facebook’s problem with Irish names?
Life & Style

What is Facebook’s problem with Irish names?

FACEBOOK continues to ruffle the feathers of Irish speakers by asking them to change their names to their anglicised versions.

Users who go by their Irish names have been contacted by Facebook asking for proof that they are using their ‘real names’. If they cannot provide a birth certificate or proof that the Irish version is their given name they face having their accounts closed.

The social networking site’s rules state that they only want people who “use their authentic identities” on their site for safety reasons.

Facebook asks that users refrain from using “symbols, numbers, unusual capitalisation, repeating characters or punctuation”, so for example famous GAA broadcaster Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, football and hurling legend Seán Óg Ó hAilpín or RTE newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin could face problems.


Tuairisc.ie reports that recently Galway student Laoiseach Ní Choisdealbha (Lucy Costello) ran into problems on Facebook.

Ní Choisdealbha told the Irish language website that she saw a message on her home page last week asking her to provide proof to Facebook that she was using her real name. When she failed to reply her account was closed.

Despite being best known as Laoiseach, her name appears as Lucy on her birth certificate so she couldn’t provide the proof Facebook requested.

Facebook agreed to reopen the account but only as Lucy Costello.

Nos.ie have also written similar problems experience by the writer Gabhán Ó Fachtna.

However the strict rules don’t just affect those who go by their Irish names – Scottish Gaelic and some indigenous groups in the USA have also had issues.

Facebook’s policy on user names has caused uproar among the LGBT community in the past.


One high profile case of drag performer Sister Roma made headlines when Roma was forcibly logged out of Facebook and instructed to log back in using his legal name. Roma took to the fight to social media, arguing that no one in the LGBT community would recognise the name Michael Williams and that in countries where laws that against gay people exist using real names could heave serious consequences.

Irish speakers angry about Facebook’s policy have started an online petition on change.org. So far it has 379 signatures. Martin Corrigan from Dublin is one of those who has pledged his support.

He commented (in Irish and in English):”It is my right to use Irish if I want to. There are two official languages in Ireland. It is an official language of the European Union as well. Have you no respect? Irish people have died to use it. It is our right, it is our culture, it is our heritage.”