Gardaí warn against vigilante activity after latest confrontation
‘Actions by such groups are cause of concern for Garda and other police services’
Gardaí have expressed concern over the legality of the actions of vigilante groups operating in Ireland.
A senior garda has warned vigilante groups against “taking the law into their own hands” and said professional investigators must be allowed to carry out their work unhindered.
Supt Michael Devine from Navan Garda station in Co Meath told The Irish Times anyone with concerns about alleged criminal behaviour should contact their local station without delay.
He was speaking after a vigilante incident in which members of the public confronted an employee at a fast food restaurant in Navan.
They accused him of messaging two children, aged nine and 11, and trying to arrange to meet them for sex.
Supt Devine confirmed gardaí were investigating the allegations and were preparing a file for the DPP.
“We cannot have a situation where people are detaining a man themselves and posting videos on social media. Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. We can’t act on information acquired in this manner and just arrest a man. We must conduct our own inquiries first,” he said.
Uploaded to social media
The confrontation was recorded and uploaded to social media on Thursday night and had been viewed more than 290,000 times by Friday evening.
In the video, the man is approached by a group and accused of sending sexually explicit messages and images to two young girls.
A spokesman for the company said the employee would not continue working at the Navan restaurant while an investigation took place.
The spokesman said the company and its franchisees “have strict policies in place when it comes to recruiting employees and matters such as this are taken extremely seriously”.
In a statement on Friday, the Garda press office said gardaí could not comment on individuals or specific cases.
However, it said the actions of vigilante groups were a cause of concern for An Garda Síochána and other police services.
“The activity engaged in and the manner of confrontation between such groups and their targets has the potential for violence and could result in harm to persons present.”
The statement said there were also concerns over the legality of the actions of such groups operating in Ireland.
“Finally, the manner in which such groups operate and how they interact with their chosen targets prior to and during the arranged meeting has the potential to affect future criminal proceedings.”
The statement urged anyone with information relating to the “potential sexual exploitation of children” to report it immediately to An Garda Síochána, where it would be investigated by professional investigators.