'Garda needs experienced officers in order to reach out to Muslim community'
The Garda needs to utilise highly trained and experienced officers to deal with the Muslim community to combat the growing problem of Islamic extremism in this country, a senior terrorism investigator has warned.
He said the force "should be proactive" in how it is dealing with the threat in Ireland.
There are increasing fears Ireland is being used as a hub by jihadists and that gardaí are ill-equipped to deal with the issue after attacks in England and continental Europe.
The investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, believes gardaí need to change their tactics.
"Ireland is in the best position to deal with this issue. We have a reasonably small Muslim community semi-integrated with local communities here," the investigator, who has experience fighting domestic and international terror groups, said.
"Ireland does not have ghettos like what exist in the UK, France and Belgium and the opportunity is here to ensure that people in the Muslim community do not get marginalised.
"There are difficulties here, but to stop the problem getting worse we need experienced gardaí to deal with these communities. There are a lot of people in the Garda who have the natural ability to communicate and these are the people who need to be utilised now.
"When dealing with the Muslim community, officers need to know the background of who they are dealing with, where they are from, what strand of the Islamic faith they are, their allegiances, their ideologies and most importantly to discover whether there are individuals who have a mindset towards violence," he said.
"If gardaí are going to these communities without the necessary knowledge, these communities won't engage with gardaí."