Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ireland is not immune to the threat from Isil

Published 29/12/2015 | 02:30

Whatever the outcome, we can no longer pretend that Ireland is immune from the threats posed by Isil
Whatever the outcome, we can no longer pretend that Ireland is immune from the threats posed by Isil

For months, an array of government ministers and senior gardaí have denied that Ireland faces a threat from the alleged activities of extreme Islamic operatives who are living in Ireland or who have returned here after fighting abroad in conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq.

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The authorities are, of course, correct to place the threats posed by a small cohort of Islamic State (Isil) operatives and others in perspective. And Ireland, which has faced down and continues to face down threats by dissident Republicans, is sadly familiar with - and for the most part well equipped to deal with - threats to national security.

However, the reassurances that Ireland is not at risk from the activities of jihadists and Isil supporters have been undermined by a series of court actions that have exposed the potential risks to national security - in Ireland and elsewhere - by suspected Islamic operatives based in this country.

Authorities in Spain are currently dealing with the case of an Algerian-born Irish national who is suspected of terrorism offences. Ali Charaf Damache walked free from an Irish court and later travelled to Spain after successfully challenging an extradition challenge from the US.

Yesterday, the High Court granted a request by the Government to lift an injunction against a deportation order that authorities here have issued in respect of a man who is believed to be a major recruiter in Ireland for Isil.

The man denies helping people to travel to Syria and other conflict zones and denies advising violent Islamic leaders overseas. The case may ultimately see a clash between national security and what the man says is his right not to be tortured if he is returned to a country in the Middle East.

And the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, could, in time, prove to be the man's trump card.

Whatever the outcome, we can no longer pretend that Ireland is immune from the threats posed by Isil.

Noonan's illness shows pressures of public life

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has "got his retaliation in first" in the very best traditions of Limerick city rugby. In a very personal move to quash rumours about ill health, Mr Noonan has said he would return to work soon and is preparing for the forthcoming General Election.

The veteran Fine Gael TD's personalised statement insisted he was "well on the mend" after surgical procedures which saw him spend Christmas in a Dublin hospital.

His strong message will hearten his party colleagues and all their supporters. It will also be greeted with goodwill by rivals in all parties and none.

Mr Noonan's illness also reminds us that public life takes its toll on many politicians, especially as a general election is close at hand. It is well to temper our criticisms of all politicians and avoid personalising issues.

Meanwhile, the Limerick veteran, who has given four decades to Irish public life, is determined that he is not finished yet. We wish Michael Noonan a speedy convalescence. We also take this opportunity to wish all politicians preparing for the campaign good health and good fortune.

Irish Independent

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