Navan attack: Five teenagers released after questioning as part of investigation into assault on boy (14)

Ireland’s new Online Safety Commissioner Niamh Hodnett has requested the main social media platforms remove the videos of the assault

Generic Garda
The suspects, all of whom are minors, will now be questioned by specialist gardaí qualified to interview children

Five teenagers who were arrested on Friday as part of a Garda investigation into the assault of a 14-year-old boy in Navan, Co Meath, last Monday have been released without charge.

Three teenage boys were arrested on Friday morning, and a further two teens were arrested on Friday afternoon, all for alleged offences under Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1999.

All were subsequently arrested without charge. According to the Garda, a file will be referred in the first instance for consideration for admission to the Juvenile Diversion Programme in accordance with Part 4 of the Children Act, 2001. Investigations into the incident are ongoing.

‘Hate as a motivating factor’

The attack, which left the boy hospitalised with serious injuries, has been classified by gardaí as an assault with “hate as a motivating factor,” a Garda source said.


The suspects, along with the victim, are students of Beaufort College in Navan.

There is no official definition of a hate crime in Irish law but gardaí can classify offences as having a “hate motivation” if they believe the offence related to a victim’s age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

This can then be taken into account as an aggravating factor by a judge in any subsequent sentencing hearing.

The Garda has requested that members of the public refrain from sharing a video of the attack currently circulating on social media, out of respect for the victim.

Navan assault: Taoiseach to contact family of boy (14) and calls on attackers’ parents to ‘take responsibility’Opens in new window ]

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he spoke by video-call yesterday with the mother of the young man who was attacked in Navan and offered his support and his sympathy.

“I expressed my solidarity and support and they were happy that the gardaí had engaged with them in school too,” said the Taoiseach.

The new Online Safety Commissioner (OSC) Niamh Hodnett has requested that the main social media platforms remove the videos of the assault that are circulating online, and to report to her on their progress.

The OSC was appointed in March as part of the establishment of Coimisiún na Meán, the new independent regulator which will oversee broadcasters and online media.

The Taoiseach said he had engaged yesterday with Google, and they had said they were doing everything to take the video off their platform.

However, he criticised Twitter, saying that social media platform was not living up to its obligations in terms of its own community standards.

“I think we should be willing to distinguish between companies that do make an effort to apply their own standards and those that are failing at applying their own standards. And to me, that includes Twitter.

“We also need to look at ourselves. Most of these images are being shared by other people. Maybe sometimes it’s in good faith in solidarity with the [young man] who was attacked, but they actually shouldn’t be shared . . . whether they’re photographs or videos should not be shared by decent people.

“The traditional media also needs to think about its responsibilities. There’s lots of horrible stuff online. And very often, it only gets seen by millions of people because it’s highlighted and signalled by traditional media.”

Minister for Education Norma Foley also urged people not to share the video on social media video.

“It makes it very, very difficult for it to be removed when it has been forwarded on so many different times. So I suppose really what we are urging is that people would not do that, that they would not and I understand that it can happen for a variety of reasons, but we would be urging people not to share it, not to share content of that nature online,” she said.

The victim needed hospital treatment for facial injuries in the incident which happened on his way home from school.

Ms Foley said that she has spoken directly with the principal and there is a separate Garda investigation and disciplinary procedures.

The teenager is keen to return to school in the coming days, Ms Foley said.

“So our psychological services are currently working with the school just for whatever additional supports they might need,” she added.

Ms Foley said that she was not satisfied that the social media companies involved were doing enough to remove the content.

“We would want this removed, in an ideal circumstances, it should never, ever have been posted in the first place. And I think that’s the most important consideration,” she said on RTÉ Morning Ireland.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times