Google ad ban 'is an attempt to rig vote', claim No campaigners
Abortion referendum campaigners have reacted strongly to a decision by Google to suspend all advertising relating to the upcoming abortion referendum.
Pro-choice campaigners have welcomed the move, saying that it will "create a level playing field".
However, pro-life advocates have described it as "an attempt to rig the election".
Campaigners on both sides of the referendum argument have spoken out after Google had officially announced the ban on the ads in relation to the referendum.
Google has said that it has made the move as it wished to respect the "integrity" of the referendum election process.
"Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment," said the company.
Twitter has also moved to ban referendum ads for the remainder of the campaign, while Facebook had announced earlier this week that it was blocking all ads that come from advertisers outside of Ireland.
The social media giant says it will still allow referendum-related ads that are paid for by organisations within Ireland.
Elsewhere, most of the country's biggest media publishers appear not to have banned digital ads that are related to the referendum.
Independent News & Media, Ireland's largest digital media platform, says that it will allow digital ads from both campaigns provided that they are "factual" and are "not offensive".
A spokesman for 'The Irish Times' was unavailable to comment.
A spokesman for RTÉ said it did not accept political ads on its digital platform. It said that it would not make an exception for the referendum.
However, other Irish media groups will continue to carry ads about the referendum online.
A spokeswoman for the pro-choice campaigning group 'Together For Yes' welcomed the ban on Google Search and YouTube referendum ads.
Campaign co-director Ailbhe Smyth said that the move would elevate "the strength of argument and power of personal testimony" over arguments "that are paid to be put in front of" people.
But at a press conference called by the pro-life campaign Save the 8th and the Iona Institute, campaigners claimed that the decision to ban ads on Google had been taken "because one side in this referendum is terrified of losing and wants to prevent voters from being informed".
The group claims that it will now be put at a disadvantage because it had particularly relied on posters and social media to put out its message.
"Online was the only platform available to the No campaign to speak to voters directly.
"That platform is now being undermined in order to prevent the public from hearing the message of one side," it said in a joint statement that was read by pro-life campaigner John McGuirk.