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Debunked: Claims of Dungarvan attacks by foreign nationals are baseless, according to Gardaí

An investigation resulted in the arrest of a woman for allegedly making a false report.

ONLINE CLAIMS THAT migrants have been attacking locals in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, have little basis, according to statements by Gardaí. 

Social media posts remain online alleging that there have been a spate of attacks or attempted assaults by groups of foreign men in across the country, despite police saying that they have not had credible reports of these in many cases. 

Rumors of these assaults quickly spread on social media and were exploited by far-right activists, according to locals who spoke to The Journal.

Disinformation experts described this tactic as a textbook example of a fringe group attempting to whip up ‘moral panics’ around refugees and asylum seekers. 

One case Gardaí were known to have been investigating — of a supposed attempted assault in Dungarvan on 19 February – was reported in the media and widely shared on social media, including on Facebook, Twitter and the messaging app Telegram.

Prompted by these rumours, a lightly attended protest was held in the town centre and a group calling itself ‘Volunteer Safety Patrol’ formed, initially attracting more than 900 Facebook members.

However, statements by the Gardaí indicate that there is no evidence that there have been a series of assaults in the town involving migrants.

“An Garda Síochána is acutely aware of the significant volume of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news in circulation in relation to public safety,” a statement read.

Weeks after the rumour first came to light, Gardaí confirmed they were no longer investigating the case and had arrested a woman for allegedly “knowingly making a false report”.

A Garda spokesperson also confirmed that gardaí in Dungarvan are not investigating any other similar alleged assaults, “nor are gardaí aware of any alleged spate of attacks by foreign nationals as suggested”.

As such, claims that foreign nationals carried out assaults in Dungarvan this February are unproven. 

With reporting by Eoghan Dalton and Diarmuid Pepper. 

The Journal’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. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.