Tuesday 27 June 2017

'We can't guarantee Irish fans' safety' - French ambassador on Euro 2016 security

Security at Euro 2016 is 'not 100pc foolproof'

The Green Army get set for France Inset: French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault. Photo: Frank McGrath
The Green Army get set for France Inset: French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault. Photo: Frank McGrath

Barry Lennon

French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault has said it is impossible to guarantee "100pc security" at the Euro 2016 tournament.

However, Mr Thébault insisted Irish fans should not fear a terrorist attack as they make their way to France for the Republic of Ireland's opening game on Monday.

Mr Thébault stressed that some 70,000 police and 10,000 soldiers had been enlisted to enforce security measures during the tournament.

He told the Irish Independent the competition was "the best protected that has ever been organised".

French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault. Photo: Frank McGrath
French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault. Photo: Frank McGrath

The French envoy also praised Irish supporters' defiance in making the tournament "a moment of joy" despite a threat of a terrorist attack on France.

"We are trying by all means to deter any possible hostile act of any kind. [But] We can't promise that there is 100pc security," he said.

"We are defiant and we want to make a point, this is our sport, this is our moment of joy.

"We want to enjoy and we don't want others to spoil it. And I think this is a good reaction."

Irish fans Gabriel Curtis and Paul Brooks. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Irish fans Gabriel Curtis and Paul Brooks. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

Mr Thébault added that Irish fans should act responsibly while attending the tournament.

"There is the sense of responsibility on the fans themselves."

Ireland fans Andrew Whelan, 2nd from right, and his family: wife Gillian, son Charlie, 9 months, brother Martin, left, and their dad Denis. Navan, Co. Meath. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Ireland fans Andrew Whelan, 2nd from right, and his family: wife Gillian, son Charlie, 9 months, brother Martin, left, and their dad Denis. Navan, Co. Meath. Picture: Caroline Quinn

More than 50,000 fans are expected to travel to France to cheer on the Boys in Green. And Mr Thébault called on those supporters to co-operate with security forces and alert the authorities if they notice any suspicious behaviour.

"If they notice something or they feel awkward about something, they shouldn't hesitate [to let police know]," he said.

"The security forces are there to help them, to protect them, to make their enjoyment maximum. It is in our ... interest to make this just a moment of happiness. After that everybody must be co-operating."

Emergency

Eight gardaí will assist the French authorities to try and prevent a terrorist atrocity similar to that which rocked the Stade de France - which is the venue for today's opening game - in the November attacks last year.

France has remained on its highest state of emergency and will continue to remain so during the Euros, as the US State Department revealed that an act of terrorism during the competition was "likely".

Security forces have already clamped down this week when a French citizen, who was planning a number of attacks at the tournament in France, was arrested in Ukraine with an arsenal of arms and ammunition.

Mr Thébault added that it was disheartening that "there is no place, including in the US, where you can feel 100pc safe".

Irish Independent

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