Wednesday 21 November 2018

'Small number of people in Ireland being closely monitored in wake of Brussels terror attack' - Government

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

Kevin Doyle, Group Political Editor

A small number of people based in Ireland are being “monitored closely” in the wake of the Brussels terror attack.

The Government has said a terrorist attack here is “not likely” but we cannot consider ourselves “immune from the threat”.

Gardaí are working closely with EU and other international security and intelligence counterparts.

A statement issued on behalf of the Government this afternoon said: “The activities of a small number of people based here and whose behaviour may be of concern will continue to be monitored closely.”

It described the events in Brussels as “deplorable” and said they “have highlighted starkly once again the threat from international terrorism”.

“Acts of violence like these are an attack on the democratic way of life that we in Ireland hold dear and the values that we share with our EU partners,” it said.

There is no information at present of any Irish casualties but the statement cautioned it remains an “evolving situation”.

“While it remains the case that there is no specific information in relation to any threat to Ireland from international terrorism we cannot consider that we are immune from the threat.   It remains the case that an attack here is assessed as possible but not likely.

“The level of threat is kept under constant review by An Garda Síochána and all appropriate measures will continue to be taken by the authorities here.

“For obvious security reasons, we could not go into the details of the operational responses.  All the agencies here co-operate closely in respect of any threats that are identified,” the statement said.

It added that there “can never by any justification for such brutality”.

The National Security Committee is meeting this afternoon to asses the risk to Ireland in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny asked the committee to meet as a matter or urgency and expects to receive an update on the situation this evening.

A spokesman for Mr Kenny said it was not aware of any increased threat here but the meeting was convened as “good practice”.

“A significant security event has occurred in the EU,” he said.

The full Cabinet is to briefed on the situation once the meeting ends.

The National Security Committee is chaired by the Secretary General of Department of the Taoiseach, Martin Fraser.

Its members include the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Mark Mellet and Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

Earlier today, the Taoiseach said: “As far as we are aware no Irish citizen is involved here. With such tragic circumstances one can never be sure of what’s happened,” he said.

“Those who seek to use death and violence in this way must be confronted, will be confronted and will be defeated,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

He told the Dáil that the Irish embassy in Brussels is “seeking to establish further details about the loss of life and serious injuries”.

“These acts were utterly indiscriminate and are an attack on our democratic values. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms,” Mr Kenny said.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are monitoring the situation very carefully and has activated its incident centre.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also said that the atrocities in Brussels were an affront to everyone and part of a Europe-wide trend in terrorist attacks.

On behalf of the Independent Alliance, Deputy Shane Ross, expressed "utter revulsion" at the latest terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The Dáil stood for a minute’s silence to remember the victims.

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