An interracial couple who were subject to a torrent of racist abuse after appearing in a Lidl savings campaign have left Ireland amid fears over threats on their lives.
Fiona Ryan (33) and her fiance Jonathan Mathis (32) along with their 22-month-old son have left their home in County Meath and moved to Britain in order to hide from those sending the family racist abuse and death threats.
On September 7th of this year, a former journalist notorious for perpetuating far-right conspiracy theories such as the 'Great Replacement', saw the couple on a billboard advertising the supermarket chain Lidl and posted a since-deleted tweet to her 32,000 followers which 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".
Ms Ryan, Mr Mathis and their son have since been subject to horrific racial abuse online, but when the couple reported the matter to the gardaí they were told there was nothing that could be done and the case was a "civil matter".
At first the couple intended to use the abuse to highlight the fact that hate-speech legislation is needed in Ireland. They appeared on The Late Late Show as well as several radio slots, but the former journalist in question continued tweeting about the couple.
The online abuse continued, and after a threat on their sons life the Ryans have said they had no choice but to leave.
Speaking to The Irish Times, the couple described how they travelled to the UK the very next day after receiving the death threat in a message which also referred to Mr Mathis and their son as "n*****s".
“I was so shaken I broke down in tears," said Ms Ryan.
"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?”
Ms Ryan and Mr Mathis are in talks with the European Network against Racism Ireland (Enar) and have been encouraging people to sign Enar's petition for Ireland to introduce hate crime legislation.
Ireland's Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, said a public consultation on the legislation will take place in the next few months, and said "the type of abuse suffered by the Ryan family is completely unacceptable in a modern, civilized society".
"I remain fully committed to ensuring that Ireland is a safe and secure place for all and that appropriate tools are in place to address racism and xenophobia in all forms."
“My Department is reviewing provisions of the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, which is now 30 years old.”