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Philip Dwyer, fourth from the right, speaking to local protestors Niall O'Connor/The Journal

Debunked: Misleading claims shared in Roscrea amid protests at Racket Hall

Far-right agitators repeated anti-immigration tropes at the protests, though locals say they were not welcome.

PROTESTS AT RACKET Hall hotel in Co Tipperary continued overnight, as it was reported that the government had “agreed in principle” to fund a community-owned hotel in the area.

The announcement came following a demonstration numbering up to 300 on Monday during which protesters scuffled with Gardaí.

There have been a number of unfounded rumours and misleading claims shared on the ground and online since last week, in some cases by far-right agitators who repeated anti-immigration tropes around population replacement, “plantations” and “colonisation” — a term that was also used to describe the situation by local independent TD Mattie McGrath. 

However, local politicians in the area have complained of a lack of reliable information from the government about immigration issues, saying this has led to vacuums being filled by false information. Indeed, The Journal‘s information obtained while reporting from the ground, and speaking to people in official positions on Monday, led to an error in our reporting which we later amended and clarified. Our initial information in Roscrea was the the first families who arrived in Racket Hall were Ukrainian. The Department of Integration later said they were international protection applicants – which means they were from countries other than Ukraine, whose citizens are temporary protection applicants – but did not specify their nationalities.

The Journal has had a look at some of the other claims to see if they accurately describe the situation.

No children

One misleading claim was shared by, which ran with the headline: “BREAKING: Male migrants flood hotel in Tipp despite good people of Roscrea braving sub-zero temperatures protesting the hotel”. is a website that has been factchecked numerous times by The Journal, often for false claims about migrants.

Another, more explicit claim was made by The Irish Inquiry, a self-described “news/media company” that has regularly spread misinformation about immigrants, the environment, vaccines and Covid-19.

“It was reported ‘17 people’ moved into the hotel on Monday and given the use of the word people, perhaps it can be assumed it was men (if it was women and children they would be at pains to say this),” they wrote on a Facebook post that was shared more than 150 times.

“Clearly the department should not be called department of children given it prioritises the needs of single unvetted men over the needs of homeless kids.”

However, this is false. Verified videos from the protest show Gardaí escorting women and children into Racket Hall as protesters pushed against a line of members of the public order unit. 

All locals

Another claim that has spread, including on national radio, is that the protesters are all locals. While there certainly does appear to be a substantial number of locals at the protest — some of whom have been interviewed by The Journal — there is also strong evidence of outside agitators also appearing at the protests.

“Everyone that I saw here yesterday was local,” one protester who spoke to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland said. “They were all Roscrea — locals of Roscrea.”

However, a reporter for The Journal who was at the scene, confirmed well-known anti-immigration activist Derek Blighe from Cork was present on Monday evening, as well as self-styled “citizen journalist” Philip Dwyer, who was photographed at the protest.

Dwyer Philip Dwyer, fourth from the right, speaking to local protestors. Niall O'Connor / The Journal Niall O'Connor / The Journal / The Journal

Blighe posted videos of himself in Roscrea, where he aired claims that migrants were committing crimes against local people.

(The Garda press office told The Journal that “Roscrea, which has two other International Protection Centres has not seen any increase in recorded crime or public order incidents associated with those centres. On the contrary An Garda Síochána understands that there has been very positive community engagement and relationships in Roscrea with those International Protection Centres.”)

Mike Connell, who calls himself Satirical Soldier online and regularly posts far-right content, also claimed to have visited the protests in Roscrea.

Newstalk’s Henry McKean also spoke to a person at the protest who said that he had travelled from Tullamore, Co Offaly, and regularly travelled to attend protests against migrants moving into communities.

Protesters later told The Irish Times that far-right activists had joined the ongoing protest, but were told they were not welcome there. 

‘Illegal immigrants’

A number of posts have described the people moving into the hotel as being “a bus load of Foreign Illegal Migrants” or “Fakeugee Economic Migrants”.

“They’re all illegal fakeugees,” anti-immigrant Derek Blighe wrote on Twitter/X, specifying the “women and children are too”.

The Journal has previously outlined the difference between an economic migrant, an illegal immigrant, and an asylum seeker.

In short, an asylum seeker is someone hoping to be recognised as a refugee and a refugee is, by definition, not an economic migrant.

The term “illegal immigrant”, on the other hand, is defined in the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act, 2000, which refers to “a non-national who enters or seeks to enter or has entered the State unlawfully”.

The international protection applicants at Racket Hall are engaging with the asylum process and the systems in this country.

“Any person who has an application pending with the Immigration Authorities, including the International protection office, would have an entitlement to remain in the State while that application was being assessed,” the Department of Justice had said.

The Department of Justice has also told The Journal that they don’t “use or advocate the term illegal immigrant” in such cases.

Contains reporting by Niall O’Connor

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