'Tunisia massacre could happen here,' warns Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Noirin O'Sullivan

Conor Kane

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has warned that terrorist attacks such as the massacre in Tunisia last month in which three Irish people were among the 38 dead can happen "anywhere, at any time" and not only in foreign countries.

Ms O'Sullivan told a conference yesterday that the "new reality" is that anybody can be a victim of such an incident, "any time, any place".

Speaking to an international audience of policing and security experts at the Global Intelligence Forum in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, the comm- issioner said the gardai, like all police forces, face enormous challenges.

She referred to recent terrorist attacks in Tunisia, France, Kuwait and Denmark, "and I'm not forgetting the attacks happening farther east, that we hear about on a daily basis, but sometimes they do not resonate close to home because people think, because it's happening in a faraway place, it may never happen here".


"But, unfortunately, the new reality for all of us is that, yes, it could," she said.

"From an Irish perspective, when we hear of victims of a barbaric terrorist attack on a beach in Tunisia with Irish names and addresses, and the outpouring of sympathies at the funeral, it just brings it into sharp focus that anybody can be a victim, any time, any place."

Ireland has a history of having to deal with its "indig- enous terrorist threat", but must also be aware of new challenges, said Ms O'Sullivan.

"We're very mindful that while we don't have any significant intelligence of an attack here in Ireland, nevertheless we remain very, very mindful and have a shared interest with our partners right across the globe in terms of what this means for all of us," she said.

The Global Intelligence Forum, which runs until Thursday, is organised every two years by Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania.

Other speakers yesterday included NAMA chairman Frank Daly, who refused to answer media questions on the ongoing controversy regarding the sale of its Northern Ireland portfolio.

He told the conference that NAMA is on course to work its way out of existence ahead of the scheduled wind-up date in 2020, though the property market is still "volatile" and has not settled down.

"Our original target of 2020 is now being advanced and we will probably have most of our work done within another couple of years."

Today's agenda includes panel discussions on "anticipatory intelligence", while speakers tomorrow include the former director of the US Secret Service, Lewis Merletti.