Sunday 22 April 2018

Dáil security much looser than at other parliaments in the world - Varadkar

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

A review of security at Leinster House and Government Buildings should be carried out in the wake of the London terror attack, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

The minister said that "without a doubt" the security checks in place in Dublin were "much less than it would be in any other parliament I have ever visited".

"We have to be wise to the possibility that someone could carry out an act of violence and it might not necessarily be an armed terrorist, it could be anyone.

"There are hundreds of staff who work in the buildings, so I think any review of security taking into account what happened in Westminster would be very appropriate," Mr Varadkar said.

He was speaking after Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald confirmed a small number of people linked to terrorism are being monitored "very closely" in Ireland.

Concern

Ms Fitzgerald said there were individuals "whose activities are a cause for concern in terms of supporting terrorism".

While she said this country was not immune from the "inhumanity" witnessed in London this week, an attack here was "unlikely".

Read more: Ireland is not immune from terror attacks like London – Justice Minister

Ms Fitzgerald was briefed yesterday by the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan on the potential threats to Ireland.

"The expert advice is that while an attack is possible here, it is unlikely.

"All possible steps are being taken by An Garda Síochána, supported by the Defence Forces where necessary, to deal with any threat to this country," she said afterwards.

An Garda Síochána is in contact with its UK counterparts, directly and through its liaison person there.

Ms Fitzgerald also spoke to the British Ambassador yesterday to express condolences on the attack.

"We feel, very keenly, that same sense of shock and horror that our colleagues and families and friends in Britain feel.

"Whatever the motivation, quite clearly there can never be any justification for this type of inhumanity."

Read more: Flanagan: 'Terror and violence will never triumph'

Ms Fitzgerald said the previously announced creation of a new armed response unit and recruitment of 800 gardaí were part of the Garda response to the threat of terrorism.

Asked about security at Leinster House, she said: "Obviously we're all concerned to ensure all premises are secured as much as possible, including this one."

Irish Independent

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