Monday 24 June 2019

Paris atrocities are wake-up call, says EU's foreign chief

Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission during a press conference at Iveagh House in Dublin yesterday
Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission during a press conference at Iveagh House in Dublin yesterday

Niall O'Connor

SECURITY forces have been placed on "alert" for the prospect of jihadist activity on Irish soil as the EU's foreign policy chief warned that the terrorist attacks in Paris represented a "wake-up call" for Europe.

Federica Mogherini told a press conference in Dublin that the atrocities that caused the deaths of 17 people last week illustrate the need for greater intelligence sharing between member states.

The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs said issues surrounding immigration and the free movement of people will have to be examined in light of the terrorist attack.

"I think this is a wake-up call for all of us in Europe. We need to act and work as Europeans regardless of our nationality when it comes to security law," she said.

Ms Mogherini (inset) said she was concerned that "jealously" between countries was a barrier to the sharing of information on terrorist activities.

"If there has been one thing we need to strengthen it is the confidence in which we share information and we (will) evaluate the steps to be taken in a coordinated and common way," she said. "The more information we share the better it is. I understand there might be some jealously".

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said the Government would strengthen the law on terrorism if necessary.

"I believe it is important that we remain very much on alert and that people be vigilant. And that any information of illegal activity be brought to the attention of the criminal justice authorities and An Garda Siochana," he said.

"I am aware of reports that there has been some involvement on the part of Irish citizens (in assisting jihadis). I remain in regular contact with my colleague, the Minister for Justice."

Mr Flanagan also said he believed the term blasphemy should be removed from the constitution and that a referendum would take place in "due course".

The Fine Gael politician will this week attend a special conference involving all of Ireland's ambassadors to discuss our economic recovery.

But his warning that the country is on alert came as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald prepares to meet Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan about the increased threat of home-grown terrorist attacks.

A senior garda source last night said the presence of jihadis in Ireland has been "monitored for quite some time" and that gardai were in constant contact with members of the Muslim community. Ms Fitzgerald is due to brief ministers about the country's security at their weekly Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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