Sunday 26 February 2017

Not everyone returning from a conflict zone is guilty

Fergal Davis

American journalist James Foley with his killer, who has been dubbed 'Jailer John'
American journalist James Foley with his killer, who has been dubbed 'Jailer John'

Attention has focused on overseas fighters in Iraq since a British national - "Jailer John" - was accused of carrying out the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. The threat posed by radicalised citizens returning from such zones of conflict is alarming. Governments across the globe are grappling for a response.

Ireland is not immune. Gardai are said to be monitoring the movements of up to 30 Irish-based Muslims who travel regularly to the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq. Those numbers are very small. Far greater numbers of Irish citizens served on both sides in the Spanish Civil War. Frank Ryan (of the IRA) and others contributed to the "Connolly Column" in support of the republican cause, while Eoin O'Duffy led around 750 Irish men to serve alongside General Franco. The Oireachtas responded by enacting the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act 1937.

But in the current context, are there any lessons for Ireland from other government responses?

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