Tuesday 21 November 2017

Irish squad to have own security team amid fears of terror attack at Euros

Security will be tight when Ireland manager Martin O’Neill’s team play in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille in France
Security will be tight when Ireland manager Martin O’Neill’s team play in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille in France

Ryan Nugent and Niall O'Connor

THE Irish soccer team will have their own security team at the European Championships in France as fears of further terrorist attacks persist.

The Herald has learned that Martin O’Neill’s players will be afforded every level of precaution when they depart Dublin for Paris on June 8.

France remains in a “State of Emergency” following a possible terror attack on a Egypt-Air flight which took off from Charles de Gaulle this week.

The Irish team play in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille and 75,000 fans will be travelling to the tournament.

It is understood there has been ongoing discussions between the gardai and Department of Foreign Affairs regarding security arrangements for the team and its officials.

Earlier this week, a French spy chief warned the French government that Islamic State were planning a series of attacks at the tournament, targeting large crowds of people.

Last night, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan moved to assure Irish fans that all steps are being taken to ensure their safety while showing their support for their team.

Irish fans are set to travel to France in the tens of thousands to support Martin O’Neill, Roy Keane and the team.

However, the minister warned fans to be “extra vigilant” given that France remains in a “state of emergency” as a result of the Paris atrocities in November.

Mr Flanagan told the Herald that the Government will deploy additional staff in the cities of Paris, Bordeaux, Lille and Lyon in order to provide any assistance necessary.

Department of Foreign Affairs officials are currently liaising with the French authorities, the FAI and the IFA in Northern Ireland regarding security proceedings.

“My advice for all football fans travelling to France is to be careful, to be vigilant and to exercise a high degree of caution,” Mr Flanagan said.

“There has been a state of emergency in France since November. That continues throughout the tournament in June.

“Irish fans can expect huge security. They can expect a much different scenario than when going to football matches here in Ireland,” he added.

The Laois TD said there is significant cooperation between his department and the authorities in the North. There are 75,000 Republic of Ireland fans and 15,000 Northern Ireland fans due to travel, Mr Flanagan said: “It’s the first time both teams, North and South, have qualified for a major tournament so the sense of excitement is palpable,” he said.

Mr Flanagan added that many Northern fans are travelling on Irish passports.

He said it is essential all fans check by this weekend that their passports are in date and valid.

He also advised supporters to keep in contact with their family at home throughout their trip.

“Win lose or draw, it is essential fans send a text home to their families and friends to let them know they are safe,” Mr Flanagan added.

The FAI yesterday received an extra 773 tickets for their group matches, and they said these will be distributed to supporters who missed out in earlier ballots.


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