Thursday 29 September 2016

'I will deport suspected jihadis,' says Fitzgerald

Attack 'not likely' here, but Justice Minister admits lone wolf strike 'always a possibility'

Published 18/07/2016 | 02:30

People lay floral tributes and messages to the victims of the attack in Nice. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
People lay floral tributes and messages to the victims of the attack in Nice. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Suspected jihadists face being expelled from Ireland - even if the evidence against them would be deemed insufficient to support a criminal prosecution.

  • Go To

Suspected jihadists face being expelled from Ireland - even if the evidence against them would be deemed insufficient to support a criminal prosecution.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the State had a right to protect its citizens and that she would "make no apology" for deporting individuals in cases where intelligence suggested they were supporting Islamic extremism.

Ms Fitzgerald also said that while Ireland was "not likely" to face attack, the authorities are keeping tabs on "a limited number" of suspected extremist sympathisers here and need to be vigilant.

She said a "lone wolf" attack, such as last week's terror atrocity in Nice, was "always a possibility".

Her comments, in an interview with the Irish Independent, come less than a fortnight after a 52-year-old man, alleged to be the foremost Irish-based facilitator of Isil fighters, was deported to Jordan, despite claims that he had previously been tortured by security services there.

The decision drew criticism from Amnesty International, which has questioned why the man was deported rather than being charged and given a fair trial in Ireland.

Ms Fitzgerald would not comment on the case specifically.

Read More: In their own chilling words - eyewitnesses recount the horror of Bastille Day massacre

However, she said such deportations were justified to protect Irish citizens.

The Tánaiste said it was "the reality of life" that intelligence was different to evidence.

"Obviously in appropriate cases you will have prosecutions and you will go the criminal route. Other times you have to take actions to protect the State," she said.

"If that means following a certain line that ends up with somebody not being in the country, and I am not referencing that case, then that is the appropriate way to go.

"A State has its right to protect its citizens and defend itself and if there are appropriate actions that we can take that result in people being safe we have to do it."

The deported Jordanian had been living in Ireland for 16 years and never faced prosecution here for terrorist offences despite claims by authorities that he was "a senior Isil operative" who had made arrangements for others outside the country to travel to fight in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

VIDEO: 'I remember seeing bodies flying everywhere' - Galway barman describes Nice massacre

The allegations against the man, who cannot be named due to a court order, came into the public domain after he mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to his deportation.

The High Court ruled the man had failed to demonstrate he was at risk of torture in Jordan or that the minister's decision-making had been unreasonable.

Ms Fitzgerald declined to give specific figures on the number of suspected Islamic extremists living in Ireland.

"We are talking about a limited number of people. I am briefed about the situation all the time," she said.

"We know we are not on the front line. The threat is not as acute as other countries that we have seen.

"We are not under a severe threat here. It is possible, but not likely. But you can't be complacent. You have the lone wolf. This is always a possibility as well.

"I would be confident about the gardaí's work on the intelligence side in relation to the small numbers."

Ms Fitzgerald said it was important to avoid the isolation of Muslim communities that had occurred in France and Belgium and she pledged to put funding into programmes to combat any potential for radicalisation.

"I think as a State we need to be doing that.

"We need to be building the links whether it is with the mosques or with the families," she said.

"The only way you will deal with that is by prevention at this stage, by the right kind of youth facilities, programmes, information and education.

"It is an area I am going to put more funding into to make sure we are doing the preventative work."

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in this section