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Thursday 23 November 2017

Anti-terror security at Dublin Airport scaled back: Just three armed officers on duty

'We must be prepared for terror attack,' warn gardaí

Dublin airport terminal two: File photo
Dublin airport terminal two: File photo
Wicklow delegates, (left to right) Aidan Whelan, Jim Lillis, Seamus Higgins and Joe Waldron at the opening session of the GRA’s 39th Annual Delegate Conference in Salthill, Co Galway. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Anti-terror security at Dublin Airport has been scaled back despite the threat of terror in Europe, gardaí have warned.

Only three armed Garda officers are on duty there, while the recently established Armed Support Unit has been restricted to manning a number of checkpoints a day on roads around the perimeter.

A Stockholm-style terrorist truck attack on a crowded street could happen here, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference was told.

Delegates heard that Sweden was a neutral country like Ireland, and there was no reason why an incident such as the truck assault in Stockholm earlier this month could not be repeated in a major city here.

The conference strongly backed a call for counter-terrorism training for its front-line members.

Executive committee member James Morrisroe, from Cavan-Monaghan division, said it acknowledged that the specialist squads such as the Emergency Response Unit and the Regional Support Units were highly trained.

But he pointed out that the uniformed gardaí were the front-line responders and would be the first on the scene if there was a terrorist attack.

Their counterparts in other European police forces were all properly trained in what to do in such an event.

Mr Morrisroe said that in the recent terror attack in Westminster, PC Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death, instinctively ran towards the danger.

Read More: Lock up those who attack gardaí on duty, says GRA

"Following the attack in Stockholm, there is no reason why Ireland, as a modern, democratic and neutral country, would not be at risk", he added.

Last Saturday, the Irish Independent revealed gardaí had adopted new security measures to temporarily block off pedestrianised streets where large crowds had gathered for an event to deter a terror attack.

Delegate Colin Moran said every detective in Dublin city should be given tactical training and he also complained about the lack of adequate cover at Dublin Airport.

"Of course, there could be a lone-wolf attack, because people could be radicalised and we can't keep our head in the sand and think it won't happen to us.

"You go to any airport in Europe and you are hit by armed officers patrolling, but it's not happening at Dublin Airport - it's not visible," he said.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan said: "The face of terrorism is changing and will continue to change. We have to make sure we have the agility and responsiveness to deal with whatever type of attack arises.

"We do a lot of training and work with agencies here, but also abroad to bring together expertise and professionalism."

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Ms O'Sullivan told the association that everybody in the Garda must share blame for the fake breath tests fiasco and work together to ensure it could never be repeated.

Ms O'Sullivan said: "We either have a case here where gardaí aren't able to count or haven't counted accurately the number of cars going through checkpoints and are stopped, or we have something at the other end of the scale, which is somebody just making up figures."

Irish Independent

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