Paul Williams: Worrying Dundalk attack shows State's security regime is not up to scratch
THE fact that a man has been charged with murder following Wednesday’s shocking attacks in Dundalk prohibits any further reportage about the specific incident or the accused.
As the due process of justice kicks in, the matter is now sub judice because Mohamed Morei (18) is entitled to the presumption of innocence and all the rights and procedures of a fair and egalitarian legal system.
However, this incident has given rise to considerable, and perfectly legitimate, concerns about the State’s capacity to adequately protect its borders, and police the thorny issue of immigration.
The main focus of the Garda investigation now taking place is retracing the steps taken by Mr Morei in the days, weeks and months before last Wednesday morning.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan was one of the first to raise these concerns when he said it was worrying that the authorities appeared unable to determine when exactly the accused entered the State, and where he had been in the interim.
As of yet we, the public, are none the wiser as to this man’s status in the country, or how he had come to be here in the first place.
What we have been able to find out is very little.
While we know there was contact between this man and gardaí working in immigration on New Year’s Day, we remain none the wiser as to when he crossed the Border from Northern Ireland into the Republic.
After contact was made by gardaí, Mr Morei was instructed to attend Hatch Hall, a direct-provision centre for asylum seekers in Dublin’s city centre.
We do not know what happened here – all we know is that this man was back in Dundalk two days later, when Wednesday’s attack unfolded. We do not know if he was processed at Hatch Hall, and whether any supports or services were offered to him.
Gardaí have stated that this incident was not what could be characterised as a “lone wolf” terrorist attack.
However, the questions raised as a result of this incident do reinforce serious concerns being expressed privately by those on the frontline: that the State’s border security regime and immigration control is not up to scratch, and that is putting it mildly.
Never before has it been so crucially important for the State to put in place a fully-integrated, sophisticated, functional immigration system so that the authorities know who is entering the country, and can then monitor their movements until such time as they have cleared a rigorous security screening and granted permission to stay.
There is nothing draconian, or indeed unfair, in such a system which finds balance between human rights and national security. In fact, it is the least the citizens of the State deserve.