A TD has criticised a "scaremongering campaign" against sex education reforms
Over 50 politicians have been targeted by leaflets which claim they are backing sex education reforms which would be welcomed by paedophiles.
It comes after JOE reported that a major misinformation campaign has been whipping up opposition to sex education reforms by telling parents that their four-year-old children will be taught how to masturbate.
The National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA) is currently reviewing the standard of sex education in Ireland, and whether it needs to be reformed to make sure all children are taught about LGBT relationships, contraception and consent.
Hands Off Our Kids, a new campaign group which is against reforms to sex education, has designed 55 different leaflets which personally attack individual politicians and include their name and pictures. The leaflets are designed to target TDs and senator who are in favour of modernising Irish sex education. The leaflets name individual politicians and claim that their plans to teach consent to children are something that "paedophiles would welcome".
Copies of the leaflets, which name Fiona O'Loughlin, the Fianna Fáil TD, were handed around her constituency of Kildare South. Ms O'Loughlin said that the leaflets were the definition of "fake news." Ms O'Loughlin said that Hands Off Our Kids is an anonymous right wing organisation. It is understood that it is supported by a number of Renua candidates.
"The leaflets, which used my name and my image to peddle mistruths, were distributed in a coordinated and manipulative way. This is a scaremongering campaign which seeks to damage my name and reputation in my community – I won’t allow this to happen," O'Loughlin said.
She said that the "intimidating campaign" would not stop her from supporting sex education reforms.
“Despite what is written on the nasty leaflets, there is nothing sordid about informing our children that they can say no, that they can be free to express themselves, that they should be open and inclusive. Society can only benefit from educated, well-informed children."
Last week, JOE revealed that a misinformation campaign, which started in Donegal, has led to hundreds of parents sending letters to the Department of Education. The letters incorrectly claim that the government is "adopting" a policy which would have four-year-old children taught about masturbation. In some cases, teachers have sent letters featuring the sensational and untrue claims home in children’s school bags. It is understood that over 200 of the letters have been sent to the Department of Education so far.
Similar claims to those in the letters have also been made another campaign group, called A Parent’s Right.
The group is critical of plans to reform sex education. On its Facebook page, it has claimed:
“They will sexualise your child from a very young age by exposing them to adult sexual practices!”
The main spokeswoman for the group is Rebecca McNamee, who also goes by the name Rebecca McDaid.
In an interview with a right-wing blog, McNamee claimed that “self-pleasure is the very first thing that will be taught to the children at the ages of 0-4.” She also claimed that the WHO document is “very, very much in the forefront of where we will be going with our sex education of the children.” McNamee was giving an interview about "government plans for explicit sex education" but appeared to conflate the sex education review with a private members' bill from socialist TDs.
McNamee was recently invited onto Virgin Media’s Ireland AM programme to debate sex education reforms with Ruth Coppinger, the Solidarity TD. Shortly after JOE contacted Ms McNamee on Wednesday, the A Parent’s Right Facebook page was deleted. In response to JOE, McNamee said: "As a busy working parent, I cannot suspend my day to deal with every request of a frivolous nature I receive." She also asked for contact details for JOE's lawyer. McNamee said that A Parents Right did not disseminate the letters which were sent to the Department of Education.