Northern Ireland news

Election candidate claims adverts blocked because 'Facebook believes Downpatrick is in Republic'

Newry, Mourne and Down council election candidate Cadogan Enright

A council election candidate has claimed he has been prevented from posting adverts on Facebook after it said the part of Co Down where he lives is in the Republic.

Downpatrick-based independent Cadogan Enright said he has fought a five-week battle with the social media giant but has yet to convince its team of experts that he is based in Northern Ireland.

In the wake of claims that Russian interference influenced the outcome of the US election and EU referendum, Facebook has tightened rules on who can post political adverts on its site.

One of the company's new policies is to disallow electoral ads purchased from outside the jurisdiction where the poll is taking place.

However, according Mr Enright, who has sat on Newry, Mourne and Down Council for the past 12 years, Facebook has wrongly identified him as residing south of the border and therefore blocked his bid to put campaign ads on its site.

In a last-ditch effort to persuade it of his bona fides, he has had the council's chief executive Liam Hannaway verify that the local authority lies entirely within the north and "is therefore part of the United Kingdom".

He said he has also provided the company with 29 different forms of UK ID, including a tax return and medical card, but all to no avail.

"I have stressed to them on numerous occasions that I am a politician living and working in Northern Ireland – and therefore in the UK – but it has so far fallen on deaf ears," he said.

"They have a team of so-called experts working on the problem for weeks now, apparently flown in from the USA to supervise the local elections in the UK, yet they many appear to have a very poor grasp of the English language and geography."

Mr Enright has received emails from Facebook assuring him that the company was seeking to rectify the issue, but last night – almost 48 hours before the polls open – it had not been resolved.

A Facebook spokesman told The Irish News: "We are working with Cadugan Enright to understand why his authorisation process has not worked and to verify his authorisation as soon as possible."

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