Gardai would run around like 'headless chickens' if terrorists attacked tomorrow

AGSI hears front-line police officers were bereft of knowledge if they had to investigate international terrorist incident

Delegates at the AGSI conference in Westport, Co Mayo. Photo: Paul Mealey

Tom Brady

GardaÍ would panic and run around like "headless chickens" if there was an international terrorist bomb attack on the streets tomorrow, a conference of supervisors in the force has been told.

Delegates at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors heard that frontline police officers were bereft of knowledge, instruction or direction if they had to investigate an international terrorist incident.

Members directed AGSI leaders to press Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan for regular updates for gardaí nationwide on the international terror threat and an in-depth critical skills analysis of their capability to tackle it. One delegate, who did not wish to be named, said jihadi threats posed the greatest challenge to any police force.

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He said the recent attacks in France and Belgium had made European governments sit up and realise that Europe was now regarded as a legitimate target for terrorists.

He asked delegates: "What would you do if a terrorist bomb exploded on our main thoroughfares tomorrow or if there was an attack with chemical or biological weapons at a large-scale public event such as an All-Ireland final in Croke Park?

"I'll tell you what you'd do - panic, panic and panic. We'd be like headless chickens.

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"We, the people here today and our frontline colleagues, would not have a clue where to start, what plan to put in place or how to investigate."

Another speaker, Sgt Liam Corcoran, from Tipperary, said he found it bewildering that garda management had failed to provide frontline officers with the information, training and equipment they needed to help them defend themselves and the people they served.