Tuesday 25 July 2017

Terrorist attack outside the capital 'would result in a huge loss of life'

French fire brigade members aid an injured person near the Bataclan concert hall following the terrorist attack in Paris in 2015. Photo: Reuters
French fire brigade members aid an injured person near the Bataclan concert hall following the terrorist attack in Paris in 2015. Photo: Reuters
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Ireland would likely suffer "a huge loss of life" if terrorists launched an attack outside Dublin - which is the focus of Garda and Defence Forces response capability.

The warning came as military officials said Ireland not only needed to invest in the expansion of the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) - the counter-terrorism response unit - but also in the G2 military intelligence unit.

The Government also faces calls for the establishment of a special national intelligence agency, with Ireland currently depending on co-operation between Garda intelligence units and G2.

Calls for a dedicated Irish intelligence agency were first made over a decade ago.

Former defence minister Simon Coveney confirmed the Government, in line with the new White Paper on Defence, is to fund the expansion of the ARW.

However, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has now echoed the concerns of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) that its force requires major additional funding and training to offer a proper counter-terrorism response capability nationwide.

Michael Corcoran, formerly of the GRA executive, pointed out that Cork, Ireland's second city and the country's largest county, was reliant on 12 trained Regional Support Unit (RSU) officers.

Armed

"If there was an incident where there were assault rifles used, that type of situation would require an almost military-like response and we just don't have that at the minute," he said.

"Here in Cork, we have about 12 people trained for that type of scenario.

"We would have armed detectives as well but they wouldn't have the type of training or tactics to deal with somebody armed in a truck or a van mowing into crowds or jumping out and firing into crowds.

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"That is not something those detectives are trained for.

"It is a different type of training completely - they are trained to fire at a target a couple of times a year to make sure they are competent to carry the gun and that is about it."

Mr Corcoran warned that if something like the Manchester, London, Paris or Brussels attacks unfolded in Ireland, the results could be tragic.

"We would be in trouble. I couldn't see, if there were a number of people involved, it would be [anything but] a serious situation. There would be a huge loss of life.

"I would say if there was a number of people involved - if it was something like the Bataclan with assault rifles - you could not come away from a situation like that without a huge number of people seriously injured or killed."

Irish Independent

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