Waterford Facebook group facilitated 'falsified' reports of non-national assaults on locals

Waterford Facebook group facilitated 'falsified' reports of non-national assaults on locals

A fringe Dungarvan-based Facebook group aided the spread of fictitious assaults on locals by asylum seekers.

Certain members of the Facebook group 'Volunteer Safety Patrol Dungarvan' are understood to have whipped up a frenzy in the quiet tourist town through the publication of social media posts alleging that asylum seekers were attacking locals and preying on small children.

The disinformation campaign can be traced back to February 19th last when a social media post falsely claiming that a woman was attacked by a group of men prompted the formation of the aforementioned social media group.


Screenshots taken from the Volunteer Safety Patrol Group, Facebook

The group quickly grew to almost 1,000 members with a small protest under the 'Volunteer Safety Patrol Dungarvan' even taking place in the town centre.

At the height of the group, locals told The Journal that there was "an atmosphere of uncertainty" in the town as "many people jumped on" the anti-immigration bandwagon, taking the group's unfounded far-right rhetoric at face value.

The group's noticeable presence in the Dungarvan community forced Gardaí to issue a statement at the time, in which they said: "we are not aware of any alleged spate of attacks by foreign nationals as suggested”.


Earlier in March, the woman who made the initial claim of an attempted assault in the area by a group of men was arrested in relation to false attack allegations.

At the time, Beat reported that Gardaí were "acutely aware of the significant volume of misinformation, disinformation and fake news in circulation in relation to public safety."

The arrest was made under Section 12 of the Criminal Law Act 1976 and a file is currently being prepared for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Gardaí issued a statement following the arrest, which reads:


An Garda Síochána is the sole agency invested with the statutory role of preserving peace and public order. It is also An Garda Síochána’s statutory role to investigate crime and enforce enacted legislation.

“An Garda Síochána would urge anyone with information relating to any crime to report it immediately to An Garda Síochána where it will be investigated. In emergency situations such as crime in progress, or urgent Garda assistance is required, members of the public should always contact 999/112.”

Activity in the group has since dwindled and now has a little over 300 members.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has since commented on these far-right groups following the events of Dungarvan. Speaking to The Journal Mr Harris suggested that these individuals are involved simply to fulfil their own interests: "[These people] create a certain sentiment of concern in local communities, and then use that to their own ends.”