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Debunked: No evidence for claims by anti-immigrant activist of attempted abduction in Kerry

A alleged “suspicious approach to a child” had previously been reported in local media.

GARDAÍ HAVE SAID there is no evidence to support claims made online about an “attempted abduction” of 11-year-old girl by a foreign man in Kenmare, Co Kerry.

The claim has been spread by Derek Blighe, an anti-immigrant activist who has called for the deportation of asylum seekers and described the invasion of Ukraine as a “fake war publicised to encourage economic migrants to come to this country”.

Reports of an attempted abduction in Kenmare swirled at the start of the month and local media reported that a school had asked parents to speak with their children about staying vigilant around strangers in response. 

There is nothing to suggest that a foreign national was involved.

Blighe and others have claimed otherwise, however.

“It’s 100% confirmed,” Blighe says in a video posted to various social media accounts, on 16 June, with the description: “Attempted abduction of a child in Kenmare, Co Kerry.”

“An 11-year-old girl who was walking home from school last week in Kenmare, Co Kerry, was approached by what she described as foreign man in a car, who told her that her mother had sent him to collect her and was beckoning her into the car,” Blighe says in the video.

“Luckily, she didn’t buy it and took off running. The gardaí were called, and apparently they said to the parents, quote: ‘sure, we don’t know who’s been let into the country.’”

A version of the video was viewed more than 17,900 times on Twitter. 

Many of the responses to the video say that immigrants are dangerous or should be immediately deported en masse.

The Garda Press Office confirmed to The Journal that the force had “received report of a suspicious approach to a child in Kenmare, Co. Kerry on the 6th June.”

However, they indicated that at least some of the additional details provided by Blighe more than a week after the incident did not accurately reflect this report.

“We have no reports matching the details provided,” a spokesperson said.

A source familiar with the investigation also told The Journal that current evidence contradicts the claim a foreign man had attempted to abduct a child.

It is understood a review of CCTV footage, which extensively covers the area, shows neither an incident occurring, nor any person matching the description of the alleged perpetrator or their supposed vehicle.

The Garda Press Office has on a number of occasions this year criticised “misinformation” about claims that non-white men are committing sexual crimes against women and children.

Such claims are frequent in anti-immigrant groups, frequently without evidence. They often dramatic events in busy, public areas. 

Rumours that foreign men were involved in an assault kickstarted a series of anti-migrant protests in Finglas, prompting Gardaí to take the rare step of publicly announcing that they were seeking a white Irish male in their investigation.

One woman was also arrested earlier this year on suspicion of making a false report after a supposed attempted assault in Dungarvan on 19 February, which was reported in the media and widely shared on social media.

There is no evidence to support the latest claim in Kenmare.

Gardaí have not corroborated the claim about an attempted abduction by a foreign man that was supposedly reported to authorities. A knowledgeable source has said current evidence contradicted that the incident occurred as described. 

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.