Thursday 20 July 2017

'We would need 1,000 officers to fully police fence at Shannon Airport'

Chief Superintendent John Kerin. Picture: Press 22
Chief Superintendent John Kerin. Picture: Press 22

Andrew Hamilton

Gardai have admitted that it is beyond their capability to fully police the fence at Shannon Airport from a possible terrorist threat.

Co Clare's most senior garda, Chief Superintendent John Kerin, said: "There is a 9km perimeter fence around that airport and there is no way that we can stop people coming over that fence. We would need 1,000 officers to do that.

"There are additional armed response units which regularly patrol in Co Clare and patrol the airport," he said.

But he added: "It would be very foolish of me to say that something like what happened in Britain [a terrorist attack] won't happen here."

Chief Supt Kerin said that while 100pc safety can never be guaranteed, measures were being taken to protect Shannon Airport.

Speaking at a Joint Policing meeting of Clare County Council, he said: "In the same way that crime has changed, terrorism has changed as well. I can only speak for our own situation around the airport, we have a 24/7 armed presence there.

"We have a lot of resources tied up protecting military aircrafts coming through the airport and protecting VIPs coming through the airport. "It is something that I wish we didn't have to do, but we are obliged to do it."

He also confirmed that increased security at Sunday's match between Clare and Kerry was terrorism-related.

"We did meet with the GAA [ahead of the Clare verses Kerry match]. There was an incident the previous week when a banger went off at a GAA match and caused an incident. We wanted to ensure that the likes of that didn't happen. We had no information to suggest that an [terrorist] incident was going to happen [at this match]," he said.

On the challenge of combating radicalisation, he said: "We work closely with the Muslim community. The whole idea is to reassure them of our support and tell them of the ways that we enforce the laws in this country.

"We also go into secondary schools and third-level institutes to identify young people who are changing and being radicalised. I can assure you that it is top of our agenda."

Irish Independent

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