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FACTCHECK

Debunked: Gardaí have not installed 'watch towers' on O'Connell Street after riots in Dublin

Images from O’Connell Street actually show light projection boxes.

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FALSE CLAIMS HAVE circulated online in recent days that Gardaí have installed watch towers opposite the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street in the wake of last week’s riots in the capital.

The allegation has popped up across social media, including on X (formerly Twitter) and the messaging app Telegram, alongside images showing a series of metal structures along the east side of O’Connell Street. 

The claims initially appeared on Irish social media accounts, but were subsequently re-shared by others in the UK.

“Watch towers up at the GPO after riots in Dublin. Order out of chaos. 15 minutes city’s [sic] coming faster than you think,” one post read, referencing the 15-minute city conspiracy.

The claim began circulating the day after Dublin saw an evening of chaos following a multiple stabbing in Parnell Square, in which three children and a carer were injured.

Among the first to make the claim on 24 November was Andy Heasman, a known far-right activist who has taken part in various protests.

Heasman was present at a demonstration outside Leinster House in September which saw the erection of gallows featuring images of a number of TDs, and demonstrations targeting libraries across the country over their stocking of LGBTQ+ reading material.

However, claims that watch towers have been erected in Dublin are false: the towers that have been photographed were actually constructed before rioting occurred and have been placed there to house projectors for Dublin’s Winter Lights series of installations.

IMG_9674 One of the projection boxes in Dublin Nicky Ryan / The Journal Nicky Ryan / The Journal / The Journal

The installations feature a series of projections and lighting displays on prominent buildings throughout the capital, and the structures have also been erected in other locations such as Bank of Ireland College Green, the Central Bank Plaza and Merrion Square.

Gardaí said in a statement that the installation of the structures were nothing to do with the force or policing, and directed queries to Dublin City Council.

“This is not a matter for An Garda Síochána,” a statement from the Garda Press Office said.

A spokesperson from Dublin City Council confirmed that the structures had been installed as part of a digital display for the festive period.

“The three scaffolds opposite the GPO on O’Connell Street contain projectors which will be used to project a series of digital artwork on the GPO,” a statement read.

“The artwork has been created by international artists as part of an open call process for this year’s Dublin Winter Lights.”

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