Monday 18 December 2017

'Serious concerns' over lack of concert and sport venue security in Ireland

People rush out of the Arndale shopping centre as it is evacuated in Manchester. Photo: REUTERS
People rush out of the Arndale shopping centre as it is evacuated in Manchester. Photo: REUTERS

Philip Ryan, Tom Brady and Ralph Riegel

Serious concerns were raised at a Cabinet meeting about the lack of security measures at concert and sport venues in Ireland.

Super Junior Minister Finian McGrath is understood to have told colleagues he had "serious concerns for public safety" in the wake of the horrific concert bombing in Manchester.

Mr McGrath and Transport Minister Shane Ross both asked Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald for assurances on the State's preparations for the eventuality of a terror attack.

But Mrs Fitzgerald insisted she had confidence in security arrangements currently used by gardaí to prevent a terrorism incident in Ireland.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan briefed her yesterday morning on the response to the latest developments.

Gardaí are planning to take part in a series of exercises with specialist units from other European police forces in a bid to streamline the response to the growing threat from international terrorism.

Joint training between the police forces is already well advanced but is being stepped up and remodelled to deal with events similar to recent attacks in Paris, London, Stockholm and now Manchester.

Senior Garda officers are also reviewing current tactics and planning to protect the public and prevent an atrocity here.

People gather ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
People gather ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Women wait to take part in a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
People gather ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
A woman waits to take part in a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
Former England cricket captain Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff in the crowd ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Sikhs wave placards before a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
People hold a placard as they take part in a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
People attendn a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People gather for a vigil in George Square, Glasgow, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Paul Ward/PA Wire
People leave flowers during a vigil in George Square, Glasgow, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Paul Ward/PA Wire
People leave flowers during a vigil in George Square, Glasgow, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Paul Ward/PA Wire
People attend a vigil in Albert Square outside Manchester Town Hall after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
People gather for a vigil in Albert Square outside Manchester Town Hall in Manchester after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester for the bombing victims Credit: Kyran O'Brien

Read more: 'An attack on innocence and happiness' - Taoiseach Enda Kenny's strong words following Manchester suicide bomb attack

The threat level in this country remains at "moderate" after the Manchester bombing. This means a terror attack here is possible, but not likely.

The Tánaiste said: "While there has been no change to the security assessment here and no specific information about a threat to us, the attack is a reminder that no one can be considered immune from those whose hatred of our values drives such evil acts."

This morning Ms O'Sullivan will again meet with the other commissioners and chiefs.

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena

According to the Commissioner, the Garda force has to be conscious of the changing environment in which it operates.

She said the face of terrorism was changing and would continue to change and the force had to make sure it was able to respond to whatever threat arose.

Briefing documents given to ministers at yesterday's Cabinet meeting confirmed that there was a "small number of people here whose activities are a cause of concern in terms of supporting terrorism".

"They will continue to be monitored by authorities and, where evidence is available, they will face the full rigours of the law", a memo said.

Read more - Analysis: Threat of extremist attack in Ireland lies more with the lone wolf - but what are we doing to prevent it?

Earlier, Defence Minister Paul Kehoe confirmed that security here will be kept under constant review.

"There is ongoing training between members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces as to how deal with such challenges if something was to happen here in Ireland.

"This is kept under constant review. We have to look at what happened in Britain, of course.

"It would be very foolish if we didn't look at what happened in Britain and I know that Minister Frances Fitzgerald will be in touch with her counterpart in the UK, as will the Garda Commissioner with her counterpart in the UK, to look at how this happened," he said.

More than 400 gardaí will be drafted in to Slane Castle for this Saturday's sold-out Guns N' Roses concert.

A senior Garda source said that a "high-level" risk assessment is expected to be carried out prior to the event to ensure all precautions are put in place for the event, which will be attended by 83,000 fans.

"Nothing is being left to chance with this event. A major security operation will be put in place on the day and a full risk assessment is due to be carried out to highlight any potential weak points," he said.

Irish Independent

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