Monday 26 February 2018

Counter-terror unit 'is short of staff and funds'

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A Department of Justice counter-terrorism unit needs more resources to deal with a "very significant" increase in its workload, a briefing for new minister Charlie Flanagan has revealed.

The department last night said action to address the need for increased financial, personnel and organisational resources is "already under way and will continue".

It comes against a backdrop of a series of deadly terror attacks in Britain and Europe in recent months. The Government's Draft National Risk Assessment for 2017 said while a terror attack here is currently considered "unlikely", it is "nonetheless possible".

The new briefing document lists supporting EU and international efforts to counter terrorism as among "key immediate issues" for the department's Security and Northern Ireland Division. It has responsibility for managing EU files dealing with counter-terrorism including law enforcement aspects of countering violent radicalisation. Officials noted the increased threat from international terrorism in Europe due to instability in the Middle East and north Africa and the "potential threat from 'foreign fighters'" returning to the continent.

"There is a very significant and sustained increase in business activity related to this policy area for this division and to address this properly there will need to be an increase in the current capacities," the document stated.

It also said gardaí and immigration authorities have been given additional resources to counter the terror threat and the levels required will have to be kept "under close review" with Garda authorities.

Last night, a department spokesman said additional staff have already been made available in Ireland and Brussels and personnel requirements are "kept under constant and active review".

He said additional financial obligations arise from servicing an increased number or EU and other international meetings dealing with counter terrorism and costs "will be met as they arise".

Irish Independent

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