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FACTCHECK

Debunked: Doctored image of RTÉ headline spread with anti-immigrant messages

A photo of migrants in Calais, France, was used to suggest that the media was lying.

A FAKED SCREENSHOT that appears to show an RTÉ story about migrants has been shared as evidence that the media is lying about who is being housed in Ireland.

“The first of the Ukrainian women and children refugees have started to arrive at Stradbally, Co. Laois.” the false headline reads, over an image of more than a dozen black men walking outside.

However, the headline was never published by RTÉ and the photo is neither recent nor taken in Ireland.

“I can confirm that is a fake image and not something that we have published”, an RTÉ representative told The Journal.

There are also many indications that the screenshot of the supposed RTÉ article is mocked up; there is no evidence that the article was published on the RTÉ website, and web searches do not indicate it was ever archived from RTE.ie.

Not only is the headline incredibly clunky, it also includes a full stop after “Co”, and also at the end of the headline, which is not RTÉ’s usual style for headlines.

The dateline is also missing a comma after the date, which the RTÉ website usually includes on legitimate articles, and spells out “September” in full, whereas the RTÉ website generally abbreviates this to “Sep”.

Despite this, the screenshot been shared multiple times online. 

One early version, posted to X, formerly Twitter, on September 6, the same date as in the doctored headline, has been viewed more than 168,100 times. There is no label to indicate that the image is not genuine. 

The hoax image was also shared on X by retired footballer Gary Dempsey, who wrote: “Not many of them look Ukrainian.” That tweet was viewed more than 141,100 times.

“Ukrainians with African origin,” a post on Facebook filled with laughing emojis says. “Plenty of women and children.”

“Look at all the African Islamic Ukraians [sic] landing into Stradbally,” another post, originally in all caps, reads. 

The photo is also very misleading. Rather than showing current events in Ireland it was taken in Calais, France, in 2014, as described on the photographer’s website. 

Authorities said earlier this month that up to 750 people would be housed at the Electric Picnic festival site in Stradbally, Co Laois for six weeks.

However, suggestions that only “women and children” would be housed there have not been made by the government

Online headlines, one part of the climate misinformation trend, are easy to fake. While sometimes intended as satire, they are regularly spread as a form of misinformation and believed to be real in some online communities.

The Journal has previously debunked similar fabricated headlines, including ones supposedly published by RTÉ. climate change. 

Verdict

False. An RTÉ headline about “women and children” refugees at Stradbally is a hoax.

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.

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