900 gardai drafted in to ensure G8 summit success
A MASSIVE security operation, codenamed Shield and involving 900 gardai, is being mounted on this side of the Border for the international G8 economic summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, later this month.
The garda deployment will include highly trained members of specialist units, and the overt side of the operation will get under way from tomorrow week.
But intelligence gathering on the movements of potential troublemakers and demonstrators from previous economic summits is already well advanced, with the gardai working closely with a range of police forces and security agencies from other jurisdictions.
The officer in charge of the operation, Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, said yesterday at a briefing in Monaghan that he was not really expecting trouble but was planning for all eventualities.
Gardai have contacted the Courts Service about arranging special court sittings to deal with suspects, while detention facilities to hold them have also been organised in the region.
A large network of land and water patrols has been planned and will include a series of permanent and rolling checkpoints in the Border counties.
Gardai will keep track of arrivals at all air and sea ports and cross check them with a dossier of known protesters who have attempted to disrupt previous economic summits.
Apart from the threat of trouble from international terrorists and demonstrators, gardai say they are also conscious that homegrown dissident republicans may attempt to stage an incident as a propaganda stunt.
Mr Kenny said he was satisfied he had sufficient resources to deal with any problems that arose, and said measures such as shutting down mobile phone service in a specific area would only be implemented if there was an indication that a major incident was being planned.
For security reasons, he declined to say how many international delegations attending the summit on June 17 and 18 would be accommodated in hotels located in Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan.
However, it is understood that the main participants will be based in Northern Ireland.
Mr Kenny confirmed that at the moment there were no plans for road closures or diversions south of the Border but advised people residing in or travelling through the area to expect delays on roads leading to the summit site at Lough Erne Resort.