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Debunked: No, Travellers were not protesting outside a Dublin Pfizer plant for access to the Covid-19 vaccine

The claim was circulated on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook this week.

For Covid factchecks (3)

A WHATSAPP MESSAGE circulating this week claimed that a group of Travellers was protesting outside a Dublin Pfizer facility and refusing to leave until they got the Covid-19 vaccine.  

The message, which was circulated widely and also shared on social media, included a video of a large convoy of members of the Travelling community arriving and parking up at the Grange Castle Industrial Estate in Kilmahuddrick, Dublin.

The video, which began circulating on Sunday evening, was accompanied with the text: “Travellers setting up outside Pfizer in Dublin saying they won’t move until they get the vaccine”.

Garda sources, an official garda spokesperson and a senior source at Pfizer all said that the group stopped off briefly at the site while making their way to another location and were not protesting.

The group never approached or communicated with Pfizer, the company said. 

The video was captured from inside a building at the site and on the audio a number of people could be heard speaking.

One of the voices, a male, said that he saw a number “of people up there this morning, a group, meeting”.

The people on the video, who could not be seen, were laughing and jokingly commenting as the camera panned.

Another male voice said to lock the gates and added: “They think we have the vaccine here”. This appeared from the audio on the video to be a joke among a group of people.

A garda spokesman gave this response: 

“At the moment [we] are not aware of/have not responded to any incidents in that location.”

In follow up enquiries with a number of garda sources, it was determined that gardaí in the area had determined that the group of Travellers were using the carpark as a stop off while they moved elsewhere.

A senior source at Pfizer also echoed this and stated that the company had not been approached by the group.

A spokeswoman from South Dublin County Council said: “There are a number of caravans illegally parked on a site in Grange Castle Business Park since Saturday, 10 April. Arrangements are being made to commence the necessary procedures to secure the vacant possession of the site in the Park”.

It is clear, from these enquiries, that the Travellers were not in Grange Castle as a protest for access to vaccines. There is no evidence to back up this claim. 

With all this considered we can declare this claim as FALSE.

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK 

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’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

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

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