Gardaí 'too busy with gangland feud' to attend international anti-terrorism exercise
Police and military from 15 countries were at course in Curragh
Gardaí did not turn up to an international counter-terrorism course in the Curragh, which was attended by police and military forces from 15 countries.
It is the second time that Garda authorities have skipped the important course, having declined a similar invitation two years ago.
The absence of any Garda representative was notable during the event, which was organised by the Army ordnance school at the Defence Forces training centre in the Curragh, Co Kildare, last month.
Among those who did turn up were members of police organisations in the UK, the US and Australia.
Gardaí blamed their absence from the course, which was deemed to be highly successful, on other training commitments and the Kinahan-Hutch feud in the capital.
The course centred on a table-top exercise, based on information gathered during military manoeuvres at two major shopping centres and a transport hub.
The intelligence was then used by participants to counter potential attacks by terrorists through low-tech and high-tech command and communications scenarios.
Explaining the force's decision to stay away, a Garda spokesman told the Irish Independent last night: "Not all exercise opportunities can be embraced.
"This can happen for a number of reasons, including conflicts with pre-determined, internal training schedules, operational resource demands and in cases where presented scenarios do not complement training objectives or operational deployment realities.
"Arising from these and other international training and operational commitments, including the ongoing crime feud within the Dublin metropolitan region, it would not have been practicable to attend the military exercise."
Other agencies which were represented at the course included emergency services, private sector security companies, and potential commercial targets.
The organisers of the course told participants that their motto was 'Co-operation and co-ordination save lives'. They said the aim of the exercise was to make people more aware of their surroundings and, without creating an environment of fear, to help them observe tell-tale signs that could lead to preventative action.
The course involved a study of 17 terrorist strikes over the past decade and an examination of post-attack analyses, which concluded that all of them could have been prevented.
The course also trained commanders in how to respond to marauding terror attacks under complex conditions when they face a blizzard of information and need to control a wide range of personnel to end an incident with minimal casualties.
The Garda said last night that as the policing and security service of the State, it takes its obligations in leading prevention, disruption and countering any terrorist attack within the State very seriously. The force participated in training and joint exercises on a regular basis with partners at home and abroad.
The spokesman said: "An Garda Síochána is fortunate to have the support of the Defence Forces in their capacity as the aid to the civil power in developing arrangements in the event of a terrorist attack.
"The experience and expertise of the Defence Forces is invaluable in supporting these duties and responsibilities."
As part of that preparedness, he said, gardaí engaged bilaterally with the Defence Forces in training and scenario-based exercises and those interactions continue, arising from discussions in Cabinet Committee F, which provides overall advice on security to the Government.
He said gardaí had participated in a rapid response group under Atlas, the network of EU member states' police tactical response units.