Sunday 1 February 2015

Editorial: Homegrown 'jihadists' could pose risk to State

Published 21/08/2014 | 02:30

Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of Scotland Yard, suggested that the return of suspected British jihadists could pose a major national security threat.  Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of Scotland Yard, suggested that the return of suspected British jihadists could pose a major national security threat. Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

THE beheading of American war correspondent James Foley by the Islamic State (IS) has sent shockwaves throughout the world.

The deplorable video footage of Mr Foley's murder is all the more shocking because his killer spoke with a British accent.

The issue of presumed jihadists leaving from and returning to the West has become a major security issue for governments.

Last week, the head of Scotland Yard, Bernard Hogan-Howe, even went so far as to state that the return of hundreds of suspected British jihadists could pose a major threat to the UK's national security.

Ireland is not immune to the impact of the global war on terror and garda intelligence has established that some 30 suspected jihadi fighters are using Ireland as a base while travelling regularly to conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.

Three of those known to have travelled to conflict zones have been killed, including a 16-year-old boy. The group is being kept under close surveillance by gardai and is also under watch abroad by international police agencies.

The UK has responded by stripping presumed jihadists fighting abroad of their UK citizenship.

When that practice was successfully challenged, the UK changed its law to allow its own citizens to be rendered stateless, even if they held no other form of citizenship.

The recent phenomenon of young Irish citizens travelling to and from conflict zones, including Syria and Iraq, is troubling, even though the overall assessment is that the threat to Ireland from international terrorism remains low.

It also poses significant questions about the nature of citizenship.

The Justice Minister has powers to revoke a certificate of naturalisation, but there were no cases between 2002-2012, and de-naturalisation is unlikely to succeed against an Irish-born citizen.

Because of our history, Ireland is more sensitive than most countries to the risks of radicalisation.

Globalisation has the capacity to make foreign wars a domestic reality and it is incumbent on the State to manage these risks at home.

Both sides must act to avert looming rail strike

The threats of industrial action by train workers starting this coming weekend look increasingly like becoming a reality. With each day, needless disruption moves a little closer - but both sides become increasingly obdurate.

It is time to step back and take stock of what is at stake. Ireland's rail services have a good record of continuity of service to the public. Just a short few years ago, when ice and snow saw so many other sectors grind to a halt during two fierce winters, the 'permanent way' thundered on.

Indeed, Iarnrod Eireann, and its rail predecessors, have rarely been struck by industrial action. The threat 
of stoppages around the showcase GAA games risks alienating more sections of the public than could usually be expected.

We urgently need both management and unions to move things back from the brink. It is high time for intervention by a skilled mediator.

All of us know that eventually even the most intractable disputes are resolved by hard bargaining. It is not at all necessary to have to first go into strike mode.

Irish Independent

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