Sunday 25 September 2016

Gardaí need more resources to fight terror, Tánaiste told

Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Pic Steve Humphreys
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Pic Steve Humphreys

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has been warned that the gardaí need more resources to prevent and respond to international terror threats.

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She was also told that the force would like to recruit 150 more members each year than the 600 that funds are currently provided for.

Extra garda payroll costs will be a key issue in terms of funding this year due to the ongoing gang war in Dublin and the terror threat, a Justice Department briefing said.

"Additional resources are needed by the gardaí and the immigration authorities to enhance the capacity to prevent and to respond to threats from international terrorism," the document says.

Later it warns of "the significantly increased threat from terrorism to Europe".

The briefing delivered on May 6 references Islamic extremist attacks including the massacre at French satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo', the Paris atrocities last November and the March bombings in Brussels. It states that foreign fighters from Syria have been linked to recent attacks and that they "pose a heightened security threat to all EU member states".

The Department's Security and Northern Ireland Division reported "a significant and sustained increase in business activity" relating to supporting international counter-terrorism efforts "which cannot be addressed within current capacities".

The document also states that Garda authorities want to recruit 750 new members each year to achieve a 14,000-strong force more quickly, in part due to "the organised crime and terrorist threats".

Currently, the Public Expenditure Department has sanctioned 600 new members per year. "Further engagement" with that department will be required to go beyond that number, Ms Fitzgerald is told.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said that, since the briefing, the Tánaiste has announced additional Garda funding of €55m for the remainder of 2016. She said this is intended to support policing that targets gangland crime, burglaries and measures against terrorism.

The funding comprises of €40m in new cash and €15m from savings made elsewhere in the justice sector. The spokeswoman said some of the funding is aimed at enhancing operational, strategic and intelligence capabilities in combating the threat from international terrorism but it "would not be appropriate to go into details". The spokeswoman said that how the budget allocation is spent is a matter for the Garda Commissioner who is in "ongoing contact" with Ms Fitzgerald in relation to security threats including terrorism.

She said Ms Fitzgerald is continuing to work with European colleagues to tackle the "shared threat" of terrorism.

The Department also pointed to a Government commitment to further accelerate recruitment of trainee gardaí.

Irish Independent

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