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FactCheck: No, Ireland is NOT "officially accepting Trump refugees"

An old article, based on a misquotation, has been spreading the false rumour widely online since Tuesday.

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AMID THE ANGUISH of many Trump opponents, after his electoral success on Tuesday, some have been mulling the option of leaving the US (or at least, saying so online).

One article, in particular, has been shared widely on social media in recent days, particularly among Americans distraught at the election’s outcome.

In May, the website “Winning Democrats” published an article entitled “Ireland is now officially accepting Trump refugees from America”, which has enjoyed a massive resurgence since Tuesday.

Let’s take a look at that.

(Send your FactCheck requests to factcheck@thejournal.ie, tweet @TJ_FactCheck, or send us a DM).

Claim: Ireland is officially accepting “Trump refugees” from the US
Verdict: NONSENSE

What was said:

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 12.42.03 PM Source: WinningDemocrats

The article was published on 12 May, with the headline “Ireland is now officially accepting Trump refugees from America”.

However, the article itself appears to only relate to the island of Inishturk, off the coast of Co Mayo.

But this hasn’t stopped many online from extracting only the headline, and sharing that claim since Tuesday, without the context of the article that accompanies it.

To be clear, Ireland is not “accepting Trump refugees from America”. In case you need it confirmed, the Department of Justice, which oversees immigration in Ireland, told FactCheck:

There have been no recent changes to Ireland’s immigration system.
Any person requiring an immigration permission to come to or reside in Ireland will be subject to the rules outlined on the INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service) website and each individual case will be considered on its merit.

Under Irish law, a refugee is defined as:

A person who, owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country…

Political asylum is not for those who are disappointed by the result of a democratic election, it is strictly reserved for those with a well-grounded fear of persecution motivated by their political beliefs or affiliations.

American citizens are, of course, as welcome as ever to travel to Ireland as tourists, or apply in the normal way for various types of visas.

1200px-Inishturk_pier1 Inishturk pier. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Towel401

Now that we’ve established there is no connection between the headline and the article itself, let’s see what else it has to say:

Inishturk, an island off the main coast of Ireland [sic], has now joined Canada in officially accepting Americans requesting political asylum from a Donald Trump presidency.

Firstly, Canada has not done this. Secondly, Inishturk (or any local authority or elected representative) cannot “officially” do or say anything relating to immigration policy, which, as we’ve mentioned, is set by the Irish government and administered by the Department of Justice.

So let’s look at what has been said on the island.

The article cites an interview given to the Irish-American news website Irish Central back in March by Mary Heanue, then Inishturk’s development officer, which gave rise to the massive Donald Trump/Irish island/American refugees rumour.

Here’s what that article quoted her as saying:

I’ve heard there are quite a few people in America looking to move to Ireland and other countries if Donald Trump becomes president. I’d like them to know that we’d love to see them consider moving over here.

The Irish Central article carried the headline “Remote Irish island seeks Americans fleeing Donald Trump presidency”.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 12.48.50 PM Source: IrishCentral

However, Heanue herself, writing on the island’s official Facebook page, denied ever having said this:

We never made any reference to Mr. Trump or any other US politician or anything remotely political in our interview…

So, a quote that was, at best, a radical misunderstanding, gave rise to headlines about an island off the coast of Ireland welcoming, specifically, Trump opponents (which wasn’t true).

The Winning Democrats article now spreading like wildfire online then extrapolated from this that the entire country of Ireland was now accepting “Trump refugees”, and that Ireland was doing this “officially”.

As we have outlined, this is blatantly, obviously false, and we give this viral claim our first ever verdict of NONSENSE.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here.

For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here

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