Sunday 24 September 2017

Ireland is not immune from terror attacks like London – Justice Minister

Such attacks are “possible – but unlikely”

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

John Downing and Cormac McQuinn

ATTACKS like the knife and car rampage near the British parliament cannot be ruled out in Ireland, the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has told the Dáil.

But Ms Fitzgerald said she believed while such attacks were possible here – they were also unlikely.

The Tánaiste confirmed that an Irish person was among those injured – but she added that the injuries were not life-threatening, and the Irish Embassy in London was giving assistance and support.

The Tánaiste said An Garda Síochána and other security services were always vigilant against such attacks and were in close contact with the British security authorities. These contacts were stepped up following the attack via Ireland’s liaison officer in London.

Ms Fitzgerald sent the Irish people’s heartfelt sympathy and solidarity to the people of London in the wake of the rampage in Westminster on Wednesday which killed four and injured over 40 people.

“The ties that bind us across the Irish Sea are very strong and very tight,” the Minister said. She added that the sense of shock and loss compounded other horror incidents in Belgium, France and elsewhere.

“Ireland cannot consider itself immune – but such attacks, while possible, are unlikely,” the Justice Minister added.

The Justice Minister was replying to Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins who extended his party’s sympathy to those stricken in the London attack and their relatives and friends.

Ms Fitzgerald also told the Dáil that the recruitment of hundreds more gardaí and the creation of a new armed response unit are part of the garda response to the threat of terrorism.

While both measures have previously been announced by the government, Ms Fitzgerald said they are relevant to the garda response to terror attacks of the kind seen in London yesterday.

"Obviously we're all concerned to ensure all premises are secured as much as possible including this one".

She added: "I do want to reassure you that the safety and security of locations around the country including this one is of prime concern to An Garda Síochána and they have all relevant initiatives underway in relation to that.

"I would say that the recruitment of 800 gardaí this year is an important part of having a proper response as indeed was the establishment of the armed response unit which we now have in Dublin and which are available and working at present."

The ongoing recruitment of more Gardaí was promised in the Programme for Government and the creation of the armed response unit came about amid the feud between criminal gangs in the capital.

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