A Dublin councillor says she's 'very disappointed' after being refused entry to a breastfeeding support group on Facebook.
Dun Laoghaire representative Lorraine Hall says she requested to join the group in question as she wanted 'support and advice' on breastfeeding during lockdown.
However, administrators of the group rejected her request as they felt the councillor's account was business-related.
They say the Fine Gael councillor is "more than welcome to join from any profile that doesn’t have the 'councillor' title in it".
Lunchtime Live heard from both Councillor Hall and an administrator of the Facebook group in question about what happened.
Councillor Hall said she's keen to join the group as she wants informal advice before she takes up a childcare place for her 11-month-old son.
She said: "I was looking for some support and advice in lockdown.
“Unfortunately, I was rejected or declined membership on the basis that I am a councillor. I was told on the basis that I am operating off a business account, that they couldn’t accept my membership.
“I only have one Facebook account. It is my personal account.
"I use Councillor Lorraine Hall… because I have the letters Cllr at the start… that was enough of a reason to not allow me enter the breastfeeding group.”
Tonight I was refused entry to a breastfeeding support group on Facebook because my Facebook account is “Cllr Lorraine Hall” which they consider to be a “business profile”. Didn’t think it was possible to feel even more isolated in Covid/Level5 but here we are. #pariah #politics
— Cllr Lorraine Hall (@LorraineHallFG) March 19, 2021
Councillor Hall doesn't consider her Facebook account to be a business page.
While she's had a good breastfeeding experience since her child was born during the first lockdown, she has also found the pandemic 'very isolating and challenging'.
She observed: “What I wanted was informal advice, not medical advice.
“In fairness to the group, [their] fear is that I’d start canvassing. I am an elected representative… but this is not how you canvass. You don’t go onto specialist interest groups on Facebook to canvass.
“I just felt a blanket refusal to enter the group wasn’t a very supportive or kind response.”
'It didn’t look to be a personal profile'
Lynn, meanwhile, is an administrator of the group in question - and she believes it's 'very, very disappointing' that Councillor Hall felt so upset about the situation.
Lynn explained: “Looking at her Facebook profile, it says 'Councillor Lorraine Hall' - and it would be mostly what I would consider business-related stuff around being a councillor.
“It didn’t look to be a personal profile, which is why I made the call of going back and asking if [she] could join from a personal profile.
“We don’t actually allow people to join with titles in their name, or from business pages.”
She said she responded to Councillor Hall's request the same way she would with anyone else.
As a volunteer, she also hasn't yet had an opportunity to respond to a reply sent by Councillor Hall last night about the situation.
Lynn explained: “I’m a volunteer on that page, as are all the admins. Then I got a phone call saying it was discussed on Newstalk.
"We didn’t have a chance to go back to her to clarify the reasons she can’t actually join from that profile.
“Councillor Hall is more than welcome to join from any profile that doesn’t have the councillor title in it. We have plenty of people who are active in politics in the group… Hazel Chu is a member of the group.”
She added that the group doesn’t preclude anyone on the basis of their political persuasion, as their main focus is purely on providing support and advice around breastfeeding.