Ireland must be prepared for a terrorist attack, according to Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune. The Ireland South MEP has called for more funding and better preparations for possible terrorism, following the recent attack in New York City. Ms Clune suggested that Irish cities, including Limerick, should erect barriers in public places to prevent attacks by vehicles.
“Whilst I welcome the funding for new infrastructure that will better protect cities like Limerick, I must point out that the funding for concrete barriers is one small part of an overall plan to deal with protecting our citizens against attack,” Clune said. “There are many measures included with the funding such as security cooperation, information and intelligence sharing, a revised Passenger Name Records Agreement with Canada, restricted access to substances used to make home-made explosives.”
“Authorities have pointed out that an attack on an Irish city like Limerick is unlikely but possible,” she said. “While we can never fully protect against random attacks, we can do everything in our power to ensure we are ready for possible scenarios.
I think it’s unfair to say that Irish security services are not prepared for an attack.”
A former Garda, speaking to Limerick Life on condition of anonymity, agrees that more must be done to prepare for terrorist attacks. He has some thirty years of experience in the field, including firearms training.
“There are 10 different ways of looking at what ‘prepared’ means,” the source said. “How does the concrete barrier stop the man with the knife? I’m not trying to joke, I’m being realistic.”
Ms Clune’s comment seemed to focus on the threat from religious extremists:
“We must address the wider issue of radicalisation in Europe,” she said. “We are fighting for more measures that deal with helping young people in particular avoid radicalisation.”
But the recent EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report found that Dissident Republican activity is a bigger problem in Ireland. The unnamed source agreed that these groups can still pose a threat.
“The homegrown threat is very real,” the garda source said. “They have small numbers and they don’t have the expertise they used to, but we still need to worry about them.”
“We have a very good National Surveillance Unit – extremely good.”
The NSU successfully foiled a plot to bomb Britain’s Prince Charles by planting surveillance equipment in a Cork pub. Two men have been convicted.
“We don’t have enough vehicles or armed people on the spot,” he said. “Our response plan calls for a uniformed response and most members of An Garda Síochána don’t carry guns.”
“There are some very good unarmed guards with stab-proof vests. But the vests aren’t anti-ballistic. They’re better than nothing.” The source said that in the event of a terrorist attack, Gardaí will attempt to cordon off the area and prevent further harm, but that alone will not end the threat.
“We’ve been relying on luck in Ireland for a very long time,” he said. “You prepare and you train and you plan for the worst case scenario” but, he said, “as New York and London recently found out, you still can’t allow for that 5 percent nobody knows about.”