The Ireland Twitter account has been taken over by an American pro-life activist
Twitter users are claiming that Oswalt has ulterior motives for her time in Ireland.
Maria Oswalt is this week's Ireland Twitter account curator.
For those unaware, the Ireland account is a platform created by Darragh Doyle with the username '@Ireland'. The password is changed weekly and handed over to a new curator to tell their story and strike up some conversation.
Oswalt, a pro-life activist visiting from the United States, is currently at the helm of the exclusive Twitter account.
Controversy arose originally when the Alabama native originally introduced herself on the profile, linking back to her personal Twitter account and giving her name.
Meet Maria @glitterpudding, a graphic designer from Muscle Shoals Alabama, in Ireland for the first time. Maria will be here for a few months with her Trinity-student boyfriend. She plans to share her first Irish experiences, get to know you better and spark good conversations. pic.twitter.com/arpXIB4xhW
— Ireland / Patrick (@ireland) February 5, 2018
Fans of the account then began to search Oswalt's name in social media platforms, discovering that she is indeed an anti-abortion activist, the layout editor of a pro-life magazine called Life Matters and that she plans to work with the Life Institute during her trip to Ireland.
This was figured out in a post uploaded by a Reddit user, a screenshot of a post that her father published to his own Facebook on 18 January.
Oswalt arrived in Ireland on 28 January, a visit she had been planning for a while to "just to visit my boyfriend at Trinity and travel for a bit". Her boyfriend is currently doing a masters in Trinity College for his MPhil in Irish literature.
Oswalt took over the Ireland Twitter account on Monday, 5 February for a week. Upon joining, she was questioned about her ulterior motives from the get-go.
Fellow Twitter users posed questions about Oswalt's intentions during her trip, the timing of her trip and why she was so keen to curate the Ireland account during such a crucial time in Ireland's history.
This is you.
— Paul McClean (@paulmcclean) February 6, 2018
Any more recent perspectives Maria? @glitterflan skim doesn’t show any immediate politics relating to #prochoice #antiabortion #repealthe8th and I’m prepared to believe you may have updated your position since 2016! ie wised up in local parlance
— Nóra (@nora_eats) February 5, 2018
The young woman was plagued with so many questions, she wrote a statement and shared it on the social media platform herself.
I'm sorry if my stance or past work makes you no longer like me, but I honestly did not come onto this account with any sort of agenda in mind. I'll show you my spreadsheet of tweet ideas if ya want.
— Ireland / Patrick (@ireland) February 5, 2018
Maria posted: "Okay okay, I feel like I have to address this now because people are starting to even question why I'm here in Ireland & why I'm on this account. Yes, I'm pro-life. Yes, I was hoping to volunteer during my time here.
"HOWEVER, the volunteer visa doesn't open until March 31. My plans fell through, so I am aware that I'm not allowed to volunteer or work. I really am here just to visit my boyfriend at Trinity and travel for a bit.
"I'm sorry if my stance or past work makes you no longer like me, but I honestly did not come onto this account with any sort of agenda in mind. I'll show you my spreadsheet of tweet ideas if ya want."
However, people are still not yet convinced, considering Oswalt's long-standing history of anti-abortion activism.
A graphic designer by trade, Oswalt has provided pro-life artwork and writing for magazines, newspapers and organisations funding the ring-wing anti-abortion movement.
A clip of Oswalt protesting at an abortion rally online has also surfaced, in which she proudly mentions that she's travelled the length and breadth of the States "educating people about the consistent life ethic which is an opposition to any and all aggressive violence against human beings."
Clip via Moving Along
JOE spoke to Maria Oswalt about the controversy and asked her side of the story.
"My reason for coming to Ireland was to visit my boyfriend, Francis, a Trinity student," Maria said.
"Originally I thought it would be cool to volunteer while here, because I enjoy helping out pro-life causes when I can, but then I discovered that a visa is required to volunteer in Ireland and that the volunteer visa application is temporarily closed, so those plans were cancelled.
"I funded my own travel, and I applied to curate the
@ireland account because I thought it would be a fun thing to document my first experiences here through it. I had zero plans to talk about my views on abortion on the account, but then some of the account’s followers started stalking my social media to “expose” my political views (a couple even began posting personal information about my family members). I didn’t expect having an opinion (and not even voicing it on there!) to be so controversial."
JOE also got in touch with Darragh Doyle, custodian of the account.
"Maria applied for the @ireland account in the same way as everyone else," Darragh said.
"She applied on the basis of being in Ireland for the first time, visiting her boyfriend in Trinity College, and eager to meet new people and use the account to discuss the usual things people tweet about - food recommendations, TV, Sonder, Valentine's Day and so on. She was not asked about her beliefs on abortion before she took the account - no curator is. I find out about people's beliefs when they tweet about them.
"Maria, when she applied on 6 January, said: 'I'm an artist moving to Dublin on Jan. 28 for work & for love—my bf's a Trinity student. It'd be rad to share my 1st week there on @ireland!'
"As Maria has already tweeted and confirmed to me in writing, she does not have the account on behalf of, requested by or to campaign for the Life Institute or any pro-life group. She had no intentions of tweeting about abortion from the account. She has not contravened any rules or guidelines around the account.
"If I had known about Maria's affiliations, past actions or initial reasons for coming to Ireland, the conversations around the @ireland account would have been very different.