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FactCheck: No, Darkness into Light is not cancelled, despite claims by anti-lockdown activists

The annual fundraiser by Pieta House is going ahead this weekend, despite anti-lockdown activists announcing an alternative event for that date.

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ANTI-LOCKDOWN ACTIVISTS have spread false claims that the annual Darkness into Light walk has been cancelled.

Activists, including RiseUp Éireann, the group that organised the February protest in Dublin City where fireworks were shot at gardaí, instead encouraged people to attend a rival event on the same day as Darkness Into Light. 

The organiser of Darkness into Light, Pieta House, confirmed its annual efforts to raise funds for suicide prevention have not been cancelled and said it had no connection with the event organised by the anti-lockdown protest groups.

The Evidence

RiseUp’s post (which has since been removed from Instagram) about the event begins: “The ‘Darkness into Light’ walk was due to take place May 8th, but due to lockdown restrictions the events is not going to take place as they would each year” [sic].

The post also says: “However, in a time like now it’s a crime not to let these events go ahead, so ourselves and with the help of you and your family/friends we will make this happen.” It then directs people to the details of the event, adding: “It won’t be called ‘Darkness into Light’ for obvious reasons, but at the end of the day it’s for the same cause.”[sic]

The event was later promoted on Twitter by RealMessageEire, an account that regularly posts anti-mask and anti-lockdown content.

The Twitter account wrote: “Darkness into Light cancelled? No problem, we’ll do it ourselves!”

It continued in a linked tweet:

Just so everyone is aware, the ‘darkness into Light’ gatherings are NOT happening. They are still doing online donations which we would encourage you all to donate!
But we feel a gathering for those who need it should go ahead. There is no fundraising in our event involved!

This Twitter account did not respond to a request for comment. The account only had about 750 followers but was later quote-tweeted by Ivor Cummins, an Irish anti-lockdown writer who has more than 124,000 Twitter followers.

Cummins wrote: “Ironically an event for mental health and suicide victims has been cancelled, due to the Covid debacle – that which drives mental health and suicide issues. The guys are organising an alternative, please support if you can. Retweet on behalf of the sadly afflicted..”

Cummins later deleted this tweet after multiple users pointed out it was inaccurate, saying: “oops – looks like this may be in error – will delete tweet until i check it fully..”

So, is the original event cancelled? No.

While Darkness into Light is not being held in the same way as it would in previous years, Pieta House said by email that the event “will be going ahead on 8 May and we have been working hard to adjust the format to ensure Covid social distance guidelines are followed for this year’s event”.

Rather than holding gatherings across the country, as it has in years past, this year for Darkness Into Light Pieta House is asking people to “don their yellow t-shirts and take part in the event at a time and in a location that suits them”. 

People can choose to sign up for a special sunrise event – walk, swim, bike or a ‘sunrise moment’ – and are asked to adhere to government Covid-19 guidelines. 

Pieta House confirmed that it had no connection or affiliation with the alternative event promoted by RiseUp, which calls for supporters to gather together regardless of restrictions.

The charity said: “Although there are no organised walks this year, the nation is still being urged to sign up and mark this special Darkness Into Light.”

“We are asking the nation to experience One Sunrise Together to support those impacted by suicide. People can support by signing up and walking, running, swimming, hiking, biking or simply enjoying the sunrise at home.”

The Confusion

While RiseUp’s posts promoting the rival event did not say that Darkness Into Light was “cancelled”, confusion was caused by the re-sharing of the ambiguously phrased Instagram post on Twitter by people who then explicitly made the claim.

RiseUp promoted their event on their Instagram page, which regularly spreads conspiracist misinformation, including claims that 5G is making people sick; and that Bill Gates is pushing lethal vaccines that change people’s DNA as he plans to “Ai our brains before the end of this year” – none of which are true.

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The Journal contacted the person who runs the RiseUp social media accounts. She refused to answer our questions, which included queries as to whether she was working with the person behind the Twitter account that explicitly said Darkness Into Light had been cancelled, or whether she had meant to suggest that Darkness Into Light had been cancelled in her post.

Instead, over the course of more than 60 messages, she said that this reporter was living under communism, that Covid-19 did not exist, and that she had proof that Covid-19 vaccines had killed thousands of people.

When asked what her proof was, she sent a voice message, saying “you’re being ridiculous with these questions. If you want the evidence, it’s all there. Go find it”.

When contacted by The Journal, Ivor Cummins said by email: “I was contacted by a couple of people asking for me to publicise an early-morning event in deference to suicide victims/people with psychological issues, especially relating to the unscientific lockdown regimes we’ve suffered for over a year now. I helped them out. End of.”

The Verdict

False. Darkness into Light is not cancelled, as confirmed by its organiser, Pieta House.

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

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

About the author:

Shane Raymond

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