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Hits out Leo Varadkar blasts social media for 'polarising' Irish society

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Tanáiste Leo Varadkar

Tanáiste Leo Varadkar

Tanáiste Leo Varadkar

TANAISTE Leo Varadkar has hit out at the impact of social media saying it has caused "polarsation" in Irish society.

The Fine Gael leader claimed social media sites are allowing "inaccurate" stories to be spread which then become “accepted fact within hours”.

Mr Varadkar has been an avid user of social media site for years- and recently joined Tik Tok.

However, he recently spoke about how he is being subjected to homophobic and racist abuse on the platforms.

Speaking at a virtual event last night organised by the Washington Ireland Programme, Mr Varadkar said he was concerned that Irish politics is becoming increasingly polarised.

“Social media is a big part of that. The wrong end of the stick, an inaccurate story, one side of the story can become accepted fact and truth within hours, because things aren’t mediated by the media, they’re just put out there on social media,” he said.

The Tanaiste has been involved in a number of clashes with Sinn Fein in recent weeks over posts on social media.

Mr Varadkar had claimed that he is being targeted with homophobic and racist abuse by people on social media who are supporters of Sinn Féin.

He made the claims at a private Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday during a discussion on social media strategy.

The Fine Gael leader claimed that of the replies to his social media posts, 10 per cent of them are homophobic and 10 per cent of them are racist.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley also recently came under fire for a Tweet he published about the Tanaiste in 2017.

Speaking at the same event last night, Jen O’Malley Dillon, campaign manager for President-elect Joe Biden, said she also believed social media was contributing to a “void” in the conversation in America.

“We have so much work to do, and it’s going to take all of us. We can’t solve from one side to bring the country back together to heal from the crisis of the pandemic and the crisis of the polarisation of our politics,” she said.

The Tanaiste also told the event that he regretted not calling a General Election at Easter.

"Had [calling an Easter election] happened, we would have had the election after the pandemic and perhaps it would have gone a bit better for me and my party," he said.

"We may have had a different electoral outcome and in my mind, one that would have been better for the country," he told the event,

The event was organised to launch 2021 applications for the transatlantic internship programme of which Mr Varadkar is part of the alumni.

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