European Union funding could help Limerick prepare for a possible terrorist attack, according to Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune. The European Commission is making new funding available to protect open spaces from potential terrorist incidences and Ms Clune believes the Irish government should apply.
The money could be used to build barriers and other physical infrastructure in public spaces in order to prevent the kind of terrorist attacks other countries have suffered in recent years. In some cases, cars and vans have been used as weapons and it is hoped that barriers can minimise the threat of vehicular attacks.
Though Limerick is not considered a prime target for terrorism and Ireland has escaped major attacks from Islamic extremists, the Government is concerned about the country’s ability to cope with an attack. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar plans to form a special committee to respond to the threat of terrorism.
The EU fund is making €18.5 million available through an application process, while another €100 million will be provided specifically for cities to invest in security solutions. It is most likely this money that Limerick would draw upon.
According to the most recent EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, the threat from terrorism remains high throughout Europe. Dissident Republicans continue to be a threat, with various groups carrying out 76 failed, foiled or completed attacks in 2016. Four of these attacks used improvised explosive devices.
The EU report said that three major Dissident Republican groups operate in Ireland: the Continuity IRA (CIRA), the new IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH). These groups have access to a variety of firearms and explosives, including under-car IEDs, similar to bombs used in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were 16 terrorism-related arrests in Ireland last year.
However, the EU considers jihadist terrorism a greater threat and the new Commission funding is most likely a response to this threat, which has been a fact of life for many countries since the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. There were 718 people arrested on suspicion of committing offences related to jihadist terrorism in 2016 and 135 people were killed.
Only one arrest for suspected involvement in jihadist terrorism took place in Ireland in 2016 but the Government remains vigilant against the threat. Some worry that Ireland is not prepared for a terrorist attack and that modern jihadist tactics are very different from those experienced during the Troubles. The IRA and other paramilitary groups did not use suicide bombers. The use of vehicles against crowds is also a new feature of modern terrorism, which adds to the difficulties facing governments.