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Sunday 22 January 2017

Elite Garda unit put to the test in mock terror exercise at seaport

Robin Schiller

Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30

Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit pictured boarding a vessel this morning at Drogheda Port during a two part excercise. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit pictured boarding a vessel this morning at Drogheda Port during a two part excercise. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

A Garda operation involving the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU) was carried out at Drogheda Port yesterday which simulated a major terror incident.

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The exercises were designed to test and enhance the strategic and operational capabilities of the various units involved.

Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit arrest the 'hostage taker'. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit arrest the 'hostage taker'. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

The ERU operation also involved the Regional Support Unit (RSU), the Garda Water Unit, the Air Support Unit and local gardaí.

In the first scenario, armed gardaí launched a waterborne attack on a boat suspected of carrying explosives as it was preparing to dock in the port.

With shouts of "armed police" and "drop your weapons", the team quickly stormed the boat and recovered the Boyne Protector.

A simultaneous incident saw a man take two hostages in a warehouse on the dock, which required specialist Garda negotiators to intervene.

A 'Hostage' is helped to safety by The ERU Garda Support Unit during The Garda Emergency Training Exercise at Drogheda Port, Co. Louth yesterday. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
A 'Hostage' is helped to safety by The ERU Garda Support Unit during The Garda Emergency Training Exercise at Drogheda Port, Co. Louth yesterday. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

This was carried out as heavily armed ERU officers, covered by a ballistic shield, approached the suspect who had taken the hostages.

Assisted by the RSU, a special phone to help with negotiations was given to the hostage taker as the armed gardaí freed one of the hostages.

The ERU, armed with Heckler and Koch 416 assault rifles, eventually stormed the warehouse which contained one remaining hostage after the commanding officer ordered them to bring the siege to an end.

The operation was overseen by Chief Superintendent Sean Ward, of the Louth Division, and Supt Andrew Watters, based at Drogheda Garda Station.

Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit pictured at a warehouse at Drogheda Port during a two part excercise. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit pictured at a warehouse at Drogheda Port during a two part excercise. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

"The key thing is that the scenario is only the way you do the exercise - there could have been any scenario," Supt Ward said.

"Today was about testing how we respond to a major incident.

"A lot of what you saw today would be seen when responding to, for example, an aircraft crash or a train crash.

"The presence of the Emergency Response Unit is a little different but the scenario was really only the vehicle to get us to where we could test the response."

Irish Independent

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