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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

FactCheck: False claims the army was deployed during Dublin City riots seen millions of times

A photo from Terenure was used to bolster the claim by far-right activists and an Open Source Intelligence account.

CLAIMS THAT THE Irish Army was deployed to keep order in Dublin city were spread widely on Thursday evening – often being echoed and amplified by major non-Irish accounts and accumulating millions of views.

The claim is untrue, as confirmed by the Irish Army as well as the many journalists who had cover Thursday’s riots. 

A major spreader of the claim, Ashlea Simon, describes herself as the “Chairman of Britain First. Election candidate” in her Twitter/X account, where she repeatedly made the claim that “The treacherous Irish government has called the army on its own people.”

Britain First is a political party that broke away from the British Nationalist Party. Its founder has described their mission as a “holy war”.

The group is regularly described as a far-right, fascist, extremist group in the British media.

In October, Simon unsuccessfully contested the 2023 Tamworth by-election, receiving less than 2.3% of the votes. 

In a video she posted to Twitter/X, Simon elaborated, saying: “I’ve just seen a picture of army vehicles going into Dublin on the orders of the Irish government to attack its own people — It’s own people that they’ve branded far-right hooligans”.

Army boys A photo that quickly spread on the night of the riots.

That video alone has more than 960,100 views. Combined, her tweets repeating the false claim have millions.

The rumour was also boosted by misleading reporting in The European Conservative, which wrote: “The Irish Army took to social media to deny reports that they were mobilising to quell the disturbances, saying their vehicles were merely on routine patrols in Dublin”.

The article fails to mention that the images were not taken on Thursday night.

What the Defence Forces actually said was: “Images circulating of Defence Forces vehicles in Dublin City Centre are not from this evening, but from a separate routine operation and have no connection to this evening’s events.

“We ask everyone to be sensitive to the spreading disinformation, and to take care.”

However, even this official denial did not convince everyone.

The claim continued to be spread by one a verified Twitter account called OSINTdefender, which usually posts about conflict zones like Ukraine or Gaza.

OSINT refers to Open Source Intelligence and often refers to techniques used by groups like Bellingcat to verify information that surfaces on the internet.

“The Irish Army have reportedly been Deployed to the Capital City of Dublin in order to Reinforce the Garda who are Totally Outnumbered and Stretched Thin by the ongoing Riots,” one OSINTdefender tweet read.

“The Irish Defense Force has Denied that this is taking place and that these are Old Images, but Sources in Dublin are saying that some Armored Vehicles have indeed arrived and after a Reverse Image Search it does not appear that this Image is Old.”

That tweet was seen more than 523,800 times.

However, the owner of the account may have ascertained that the claim wasn’t real if it had instead engaged in one of the core OSINT techniques: geolocation.

The rioters were centred on O’Connell Street and Parnell Street in inner city Dublin before spreading out, clashing with riot police south of the river on Dame Street and looting shops as far westward as far as Capel Street

By comparing the image circulated against this Google Maps Street View, we can confirm that the photo was taken in Terenure, Dublin.

Terenure, a suburb on the southside of Dublin, is kilometres from where the riots took place, and no other evidence was provided to suggest that the army had deployed to the inner city.

Between the locations of the riots and where the photo was taken lies Cathal Brugha Barracks, a major army headquarters that houses many Irish Army brigades.

This indicates that the vehicles were likely returning to the barracks from a location south of Dublin, such as the Curragh Camp more than 40 kilometres away in Co Kildare.

There would be no need for vehicles from any barracks in Dublin to pass through Terenure on the way to the riots. 


False. The army was not deployed to the riots in Dublin City centre. Photos of military vehicles were taken kilometres away, in the suburb of Terenure.’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.