Tánaiste - gardaí "well trained and equipped" to deal with any potential threat

It comes after garda organisations expressed serious concerns over resources and counter-terrorism training

Tánaiste - gardaí "well trained and equipped" to deal with any potential threat

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, 23-05-2017. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

The Tánaiste has insisted that the gardaí have the “necessary resources and supports” to counter any potential terrorism threat in Ireland.

It comes after two garda organisations warned of serious concerns over the ability of front-line gardaí to deal with an attack.

According to the Department of Justice, the expert threat assessment currently indicates that while an attack in Ireland is possible, it is unlikely.

The government has said there is currently no specific information regarding any threat to Ireland.

Counter-terrorism training

The president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Antoinette Cunningham voiced her concerns this morning:

“We in the AGSI have serious concerns on a number of issues, not least the amount of available resources, the time it would take us to respond to such an incident and the compete decimation of garda numbers over the last five years - which as we know are about 2,500 less gardaí now than there was four years ago,” she said.

On Newstalk Breakfast, James Morrisroe, spokesperson for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) warned that front-line gardaí have received no updated counter-terrorism training.

“As we saw in London, the first person on the scene was a front-line police officer just using his baton and he waded in doing his best and he was aided by three other front-line police officers,” he said.

“They are the people on the front line.”

He said budget restrictions have curtailed training across the board, adding that “there is no ring-fenced budget for training in this country.”

“There is no joined-up thinking.”

Necessary operational measures

In a statement this evening, the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald insisted the gardaí have the “necessary operational measures in terms of intelligence, a well-trained and equipped special intervention capability and other national support resources.”

"They are supported in this, as needed, by the considerable skills and resources of the Defence Forces,” she said.

She said additional dedicated funding to address “operational needs in terms of equipment and training” for countering terrorism was provided last year.  

“In addition a dedicated Armed Response Unit for the Dublin Region was established,” she said, adding that increased overtime is on offer alongside and accelerated recruitment drive and “appropriate training.”

Irish connection

Minister Fitzgerald met with the Garda Commissioner last night amid reports that one of the attackers that killed seven people and injured 46 in London over the weekend may have spent some time in Ireland last year.

She said a live investigation was underway amid reports a man was arrested in Limerick in connection with a garda investigation into the London attack.

“Commissioner O’Sullivan outlined the ongoing Garda contacts with their counterpart agencies in the UK,” she said.

“For obvious reasons, it would not be appropriate to disclose any details of the investigation that is ongoing in the UK.”

She said the gardaí will “as and when possible” inform the public of the situation while “ensuring that the investigation is “not interfered with in any way.”