Friday 20 April 2018

Minister for Foreign Affairs admits to 'concern' over Euro 2016 threat after Ukraine thwart terror plot

Members of Ukraine’s state security service detain Gregoire
Moutaux. REUTERS
Members of Ukraine’s state security service detain Gregoire Moutaux. REUTERS Newsdesk Newsdesk

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has again urged Irish fans travelling to France for Euro 2016 to exercise a 'high degree of caution'.

According to Ukrainian officials, a Frenchman with an arsenal of weapons and a grudge against his government's immigration policies was detained as he tried to leave Ukraine and launch an assault on the Euro 2016 football tournament yesterday.

They described it as a thwarted plot for a "series of 15 terrorist attacks".

The announcement came as France promised unprecedented security for the tournament's crowds and stadiums, which includes the French national stadium that was attacked by suicide bombers on November 13.

Read More: Watch: Moment man with 'vast arsenal' of weapons for Euros attack arrested

The event begins on Friday among Europe's top 24 national teams and lasts a month.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland programme, Minister Flanagan described the development as a 'matter of concern'.

"I haven't been in a position to review that evidence. It is a matter of concern and following on from the tragic events in Paris before Christmas and more recently in Brussels in March, we have concerns that Europe continues to be a target for terrorism," he said

"France operates under a state of emergency and this has now been extended to cover the games up to an including July 24.

Read More: Frenchman with 125kg of explosives, rocket launchers and rifles 'was planning 15 attacks on Euro 2016'

"I would be advising people to exercise a high degree of caution as they prepare to travel to France.

"We hope everybody enjoys the tournament, we estimate that between 75,000-85,000 will travel but against the background of the state of emergency, I think it's important that people are vigilant and that means taking advise and precautions."

On the advice he would give to the thousands of Irish supporters leaving Ireland for France in the coming weeks, he said: "The French authorities are responsible for security and law and order in France. It's important therefor that everybody in France, and I include the Irish fans in this, would take local advice.

Read More: Frenchman 'planned Euro 2016 attacks'

"For example, expect that there will be random searches, perhaps on public transport, in general, they should allow sufficient time to make arrangements for their travel. There will be checkpoints, there will be bag searches.

"I would advise that before they leave they have travel insurance, the EU card and that they would always carry ID. I would advise people to carry their passport with them at all times and expect to be asked to present identification at any time."

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