How Ireland is a 'safe haven' for jihadists targeting UK and Europe
Islamist terrorists are using Ireland as a safe haven and convenient "back door" into the UK and Europe, it has been claimed.
A number of international security experts, as well as a former spy, have warned that jihadists are using the country to radicalise recruits, and to raise funds through crime.
Aimen Dean, a Saudi-born former member of MI5 who spent eight years infiltrating jihadist groups, said Ireland's lack of border security meant it was "highly likely" that London Bridge terror attacker Khuram Butt visited Ireland.
He said: "At the end of the day, we come back to the common travel area ... There would be no passports scanned on the Border in order to confirm if someone came or not. The Border is almost non-existent."
Muslim cleric Shaykh Umar al-Qadri, who heads the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, believes Ireland is of strategic importance to Isil.
"I strongly believe there are about 150 individuals throughout Ireland that adhere to hate narratives. They are in Dublin, they are in Waterford, they are in Cork and they are in Galway," he said.
However, Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, the head of the Garda security and intelligence section, said that "no more than 30 individuals" connected to Isil are being actively monitored.
"That depends on their activity and interest to us and the level of threat they pose to the security of the State," he said.
Nottingham University security expert Dr Ed Burke also believes that Ireland is seen as a safe haven for terrorists.
"I think once they get to Dublin there's a sense and awareness among Islamist extremists that the heat is off to some extent," he said.