Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Look out for each other, stay together... keep in touch with people at home' - Garda chief issues advice to travelling Irish fans

Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A top garda based in France for Euro 2016 has warned fans to stick together and obey French officers “at all times”.

Superintendent Gerry Delmar is leading a team of eight gardai at the tournament in France.

Some members will travel with the fans to Bordeaux and Lille while two senior officers will work at the nerve centre of the Interior Ministry in Lognes on the outskirts of Paris. visited the centre this week where Supt Delmar, who is based in Donnybrook station, explained that police from all competing nations are working together to tackle potential hooliganism and keep fans safe.

Superintendent Gerry Delmar at the Interior Ministry in Lognes, France
Superintendent Gerry Delmar at the Interior Ministry in Lognes, France

Supt Delmar explained: "The Irish fans are very welcome in Europe. They are very popular in Europe.

“We don't have any 'risk supporters'. If some fans do get out of line we will warn them and help them out.”

He continued: “My advice is that they are in a state of emergency over here. So, I'd ask them to certainly bring their passports with them. Obey the French police and authorities at all times. There will be heightened security at the fan zones and each of the games. Come in plenty of time.

“The grounds open two and a half hours beforehand so certainly plan your travel and come early.

“I'd also ask them to look out for each other. Stay together. Any fans, maybe if they're travelling alone, keep in touch with people at home. Let them know where they are at all times.”

Supt Delmar explained that gardaí will be on the ground and and distinctively dressed in a uniform.

“The Irish people know, because of the police at home, that we are there for them. Anybody that has an issue, we would ask them to please contact us.”

Supt Delmar is joined in his team by an inspector, two sergeants, two detectives and two gardaí. A number of the officers have worked at League of Ireland games and would have extensive experience with football supporters.

They are joined at the centre in Lognes by officers from the 23 other nations taking part in Euro 2016.

The operation is headed by Superintendent Antoine Boutonnet, the head of the national division against hooliganism and supported by Europol and Interpol.

He explained that the team is on the lookout for approximately 3,000 known football thugs who are banned from various stadia across the continent.

“We have 51 matches, one month of competition and 24 teams. It is like a small World Cup. It's very important for us to work together with European connections in order to manage the supporters.

“We are working all together with each country to watch the movement of hooligans. We exchange the intelligence about the movement of supporters in general and the hooligans in particular.”

Supt Boutonnet explained that there are a huge number of potential trouble-makers at the event.

“It is difficult to have a number of hooligans but I can say that we have 3,000 people who are banned from stadium in their country around Europe. And these guys are banned from coming to France.”

Last night football supporters from England clashed with their Russian counterparts in Marseilles.

Officers have been closely monitoring the English fans and believe there may be a further flashpoint at the England versus Wales game in Lens on June 16.

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