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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dad describes trolling of Toy Show Lara (6) as 'racist, vile with paedophilic undertones'

Lara Reddy (6) during her appearance on the Late Late Toy Show last Friday. Photo: Sasko Lazarov
Lara Reddy (6) during her appearance on the Late Late Toy Show last Friday. Photo: Sasko Lazarov

Sarah Jane Murphy and Elaine McCahill

The dad of a six-year-old girl who featured on Friday night's 'Late Late Toy Show' has branded comments he read online about his daughter as "racist, vile and evil with paedophilic undertones".

Mark Reddy told RTE Radio One's Ryan Tubridy Show that he and his wife "are the proudest parents in the world" after their daughter Lara entertained 1.36m viewers with her three-minute stint on the show.

Mark said he was "appalled" to read the comments on social media about his daughter after the show, but insisted they will not let it overshadow the "wonderful" experience.

The Dublin girl attracted abuse online after she sang: "My Little Pony, skinny and bony, went to the stable, to die on the table".

The lyrics of the song prompted a string of negative tweets, with many claiming the child and her parents were advocating animal abuse.

"Lara is fantastic and she is over the moon, the [Late Late Toy Show] was a wonderful experience, a phenomenal experience and if people look at the new YouTube clip behind the scenes they'll see the spirit of the show and the wonderful staff and kids, everybody just loved it, it was a fantastic night," Mark said.

Mark Reddy and his daughter Lara who received online abuse after appearing on the Late Late Toy Show
Mark Reddy and his daughter Lara who received online abuse after appearing on the Late Late Toy Show

"We had a magical experience and we left on a high.

"We came back to a bombardment of wonderful comments and messages and texts and supportive comments.

"But then one or two Facebook pages had what could only be described as trolls who used the opportunity to be very racist with paedophile undertones," he continued.

"There were some very abusive comments over a three-minute sketch of a six-year-old having a good time…. which is heartbreaking."

Mark said he was in two minds about speaking out on the trolls, but believes the trolls should be challenged.

"It's not fair and it’s not right and it needs to be challenged.

"[When I read the comments] I was appalled and we were very upset.

"We tried to stay with the positives, the whole idea of how her being on the show and every step of it was such a wonderful experience.

"As a family, we try and enjoy every experience and be happy and take life as it comes.

"But to come back on a high and see lovely comments and then see this creeping in... that we have to share this very small and very wonderful country with people like this."

Some of the comments posted online were also branded as "racist" by dad Mark and the thousands that rushed to condemn the trolls' behaviour.

"The ignorance is gas," Mark said.

"Lara is Vietnamese by birth but they were relating her to North Korea and stereotypes of Asian people which are cruel, unintelligent and fairly evil.... coupled with a paedophilic undertone, to see that side of things was very, very scary.

"Lara lives to sing and dance loads, it’s an iconic and wonderful show.

"That’s what it was for her and it will never be anything different.

"This is a vile and evil part of life, sometimes [these people] need to be challenged.

"I hope really people will be less judgmental and maybe look at the facts and realise abusing a child like that is not appropriate on a media like Facebook and Twitter and it’s both very dangerous for them and very unfair overall," he continued.

"Social media is a very strong medium and it can be used for both good and bad.

"Lots of people are doing good work on social media, like in mental health, but it’s a medium that needs to be monitored.

"People need to be challenged more.

"Facebook and Twitter need to put in place more security with these sort of things."

Mark described Lara as "one of the best kids in the world" and said their job as parents is to make her aware of the world she lives in.

"For us, our job is to ensure she’s protected as best as she can and aware of the world she lives in and how to deal with it.

"We’re all about model good behaviour and to talk about the things in an age appropriate way and also to have fun.

"I’ve no fears of her being able to challenge anything like this in the future.

"Life started to live when we first met Lara, it was like everything had come together," Mark continued.

"It was the most magical and wonderful experience, we are the proudest parents in the world and she is one of the best kids in the world and there’s no doubt about that, although I may be biased!"

He immediately came to his daughter's defence on his Twitter account when the abuse started.

Referring to the alternative lyrics used by Lara, he said: "She's singing it at home daily, there are many variations. I didn't teach her that but I'm one proud dad."

Mark also expressed his pride at his young daughter's on-air performance.

"Very proud mam and dad tonight, she did brilliantly," he tweeted.

It was announced earlier this week that the 'Late Late Toy Show' was the most-watched RTÉ programme of 2015.

Just over 1.36 million people tuned in to the festive favourite last Friday night.

The programme had a reach of almost 2 million, with 73pc of the country tuning in.

The Irish abroad have also remained firm fans, with the show being streamed 116,000 times via the RTÉ Player last weekend.

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