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Saturday 16 December 2017

Terrorism could 'escalate rapidly' here, says report

Soldiers stay alert in a cordoned off area on a street outside Gare Centrale in Brussels following a recent terror incident. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Soldiers stay alert in a cordoned off area on a street outside Gare Centrale in Brussels following a recent terror incident. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Government has warned how experience in other European countries has shown the "level of threat from terrorism can escalate rapidly".

While a terror attack here is currently considered "unlikely", it is "nonetheless possible", the Government's Draft National Risk Assessment for 2017 stated.

The report noted the series of "high profile and deadly terrorist attacks" in recent times, including the suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester that killed 22 and the van and knife rampage attacks in London.

Atrocities in Brussels, Nice, Berlin, Stockholm and St Petersburg over 2016 and 2017 were also listed.

The report said there is a continuing occurrence of "lone-actor" attacks directed at soft targets and these are particularly difficult to detect and disrupt.

It said Europol has judged the overall threat to the security of the EU from jihadist terrorism "remains on an upward trajectory". The report said an attack here could have a "significant impact in terms of public security and safety in the short-term".

There is also the possibility of "long-term reputational damage to Ireland as a safe and secure destination to live and work in and to visit".

It also warned there could be "serious economic consequences" to the tourism industry.

"The threat level from international terrorism remains under constant review, with appropriate measures in place to guard against the threat," the report said.

Brexit is described as the "most immediate and potentially serious risk for Ireland".

A Government statement said: "The UK's withdrawal from the EU will likely have serious political and economic consequences."

It also added that "the US policy approach to tax and trade may pose challenges".

Other potential risks include climate change, over-reliance on multinational corporations and increases in chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar highlighted the importance of having "a mature debate" about challenges in the report and encouraged people to make their views known by responding to the public consultation process.

Irish Independent

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