Vast majority of anti-immigration posts relating to Wicklow protests came from non-Irish accounts

An analysis of social media traffic showed most posts about Newtownmountkennedy demonstration came from the US

The vast majority of posts on X concerning the anti-immigration protests in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, last week came from outside Ireland, according to an analysis of online traffic.

Protests outside a site earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation in the Co Wicklow town descended into violence last Thursday after demonstrators attempted to stop construction workers carrying out work on the site.

Protesters clashed with public order gardaí who responded by charging the crowd and using pepper spray. Garda vehicles were damaged and six people were arrested for public order offences.

The protests generated a large number of anti-immigration posts on social media, including many which spread misinformation about the incident.


According to an analysis carried out by Sky News, using the social media monitoring tool Talkwalker, less than 20 per cent of posts about the incident came from Irish users.

On the day of the protests there were 26,801 posts mentioning Newtownmountkennedy on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. This rose to 53,907 the following day. According to the data, 56 per cent of these posts came from users based in the US. Just 21 per cent came from Irish users. Just under 9.6 per cent came from the UK.

Of the five posts which saw the most engagement from others, three were from non-Irish accounts. One post from UK far-right activist Tommy Robinson about the protests had 42,500 engagements.

The data also shows extensive use of the anti-immigration hashtags “Ireland belongs to the Irish” and “Ireland is full” around the time of the protest. Again the majority of these posts came from non-Irish accounts. Some 57 per cent of accounts which posted “Ireland belongs to the Irish” were US based.

Alex Jones, a prominent US conspiracy theorist, was one of the accounts to use the phrase in relation to Newtownmountkennedy. His post had 10,500 engagements.

The research highlights the role of international figures on the international far right, including high-profile political commentators in the US, in amplifying Irish anti-immigration views.

The data mirrors social media traffic around the time on the Dublin riots last November. Anti-immigration slogans relating to Ireland were far more likely to come from accounts based overseas, research at the time showed.

“Ireland belongs to the Irish” was used 105,000 times by 39,000 users. Just more than 10,500 of these came from Irish users compared with 20,000 from US and UK users.

“Irish lives matter” was used far more in the US than in Ireland, and only became popular as a hashtag after the events of November 23rd. It was used in the US and UK about 7,000 times compared with just under 4,000 in Ireland.

The X platform was the subject of criticism by the Government in the aftermath of the riots for allegedly failing to remove posts inciting violence and rioting. The platform denied the allegations.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times