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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 15 June 2021

Man attacked as paedophile-hunting group broadcasts live 'sting' on Facebook

Gardaí said the manner in which these groups operate has the potential to affect future criminal proceedings.

Image: Niall Carson/PA

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED of the harm that can be caused by the actions of paedophile hunter groups after an alleged assault on a man who was featured in a live Facebook video yesterday.

The footage showed a man in the Ballyfermot area of Dublin being confronted by one of these groups and accused of having inappropriate contact with a decoy teenage girl – a fake profile the group had created.

Towards the end of the video, individuals who were not part of the paedophile hunting group can be heard shouting abuse at the man. Then, scuffles can be heard as one of the women in the group pleads with the individuals to stop attacking the man.

Members of the group attempted to move the man into one of their cars and gardaí arrived on the scene to take charge of the situation. It is understood gardaí are investigating allegations of an assault on the man, who was treated for minor injuries at St James’ Hospital yesterday evening. 

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said they do not comment on the specific activities of these kinds of groups, or the material they publish. However he said actions by these groups are a cause of concern for gardaí and other police services.

“The activity engaged in and the manner of confrontation between such groups and their targets has the potential for violence and could result in harm to persons present. In addition, there are also concerns over the legality of the actions of such groups operating in Ireland.

Finally, the manner in which such groups operate and how they interact with their chosen targets prior to and during the arranged meeting has the potential to affect future criminal proceedings. It is An Garda Síochána’s primary role to investigate crime and enforce enacted legislation.

“An Garda Síochána would urge anyone with information relating to the potential sexual exploitation of children to report it immediately to An Garda Síochána where it will be investigated by professional investigators,” he added.

“Our priority at all times is the safety of children, and to use all lawful means to fully investigate and prosecute crimes which jeopardise the safety of a child.”

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In another video posted by the group last night, one of the members said they did not want to see violence as a result of their actions.

Do we want him to get a slap? No. We would rather it goes off like any other sting. But it did happen we do ask people to stay back unfortunately they didn’t, we do ask people not to give a location. Unfortunately within two minutes of us going live the location was given out.

She said after the real location had been shared by someone watching the video, she had attempted to misdirect people from the street they were on by mentioning a false location.

“Are we going to lose any sleep over it? No,” she added. 

In a poll last year conducted on behalf of RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live by Amárach Research, 57% of people said they agreed with the actions of these kinds of groups operating in the Republic of Ireland. 20% of respondents said they don’t support such work, and 23% said that they don’t know.

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