Google should ban sale of all IRA t-shirts: victims’ group

Some of the IRA-related t-shirts for sale online
Some of the IRA-related t-shirts for sale online

Google should ban the online sale of all IRA-related merchandise as that name is claimed by terror organisations, a leading victims’ group has said.

The internet giant has been widely criticised after a weekend newspaper report highlighted the sale of t-shirts depicting republican gunmen through its online shopping partners.

eBay does not allow the sale of items promoting or commemorating hatred and violence

Google has defended its policy, saying the company is guided by the US government’s list of proscribed organisations when deciding what can and cannot be sold.

The US list which contains around 60 terror groups – including the Real IRA and Continuity IRA – appears to have been interpreted by Google as excluding the general ‘IRA’ title.

One of the t-shirts for sale has the image of the Irish tricolour overlaid with a rifle and the words Irish Republican Army. Another depicts IRA gunmen walking along an alleyway. A small number refer specifically to the “Provisionals.”

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United (IVU) said immediate action must be taken to stop the “promotion of terrorism idolatry”.

He said: “History proves, as does the present, that where the letters IRA appear that it is irrelevant whether these letters appear on their own or if there is a prefix – New, C or R. Where the IRA is concerned, terrorism and criminality will always be in very close quarters. The UK government for once needs to speak up on behalf of the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism.”

Mr Donaldson added: “Terrorism idolatry is a cancer within our society and threatens the potential for genuine reconciliation to be forged within the diverse peoples who inhabit this place we all call home.”

Victor Barker, whose 12-year-old son James was killed in the 1998 Real IRA bomb attack in Omagh, described Google’s policy as “capitalism at its sickest”.

He told the Mail on Sunday (MoS): “The Irish republican army is a terrorist organisation. Google should take the t-shirts down. It’s an insult to the thousands of people who were killed as a result of their terrorist activity. It’s just awful.”

A spokesman for Google told the News Letter: “While we want Google Shopping to help connect people with advertisers and products, there are certain products that we don’t allow. We have strict advertising policies in place and when we find violations we work quickly to remove them.”

Following a media inquiry, eBay removed a number of items from its site. A spokesman told the MoS: “eBay does not allow the sale of items promoting or commemorating hatred and violence.”

• The US State Department publishes detailed information on international terrorism which is used by global companies, such as Google, to determine which items promote terrorism.

However, the US list includes only those deemed to “threaten the security of US nationals or the national security of the US”.

The ‘Real IRA’ on the list includes: 32 County Sovereignty Committee; 32 County Sovereignty Movement; Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association and the Real Oglaigh Na hEireann. The ‘Continuity IRA’ includes: Continuity Army Council; Continuity IRA and Republican Sinn Fein.