Ireland ill-prepared for any terror strike, say garda inspectors

‘Many front line members do not know on a daily or weekly basis, what the current threat level in Ireland is and we are asking that this is rectified immediately,’ said Sgt Antoinette Cunningham, on behalf of Agsi’s national executive. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Gardaí are ill prepared for any international terrorist strike in Ireland and would be left to “run around like headless chickens” if a bombing or mass shooting like those seen in other parts of Europe unfolded in the Republic, delegates at a Garda conference have been told.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) passed a motion at the close of its annual delegate conference in Westport, Co Mayo, for senior Garda management to provide Garda members withregular up to date information about suspects and the general threat level to Ireland.

The sergeants and inspectors are also urging Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to analyse the front-line capability of the force to respond to an attack and provide the necessary training to counteract radical extremism in Ireland.

One delegate at the conference, who declined to be named because of the nature of his comments, suggested the Garda had effectively done no substantive planning or training for dealing with the aftermath of an attack like those seen in France and Belgium in recent months.

“What would you do if a terrorist bomb exploded on our main thoroughfares tomorrow, or if there was an attack with chemical or biological weapons at a large-scale public event such as the All-Ireland?” he asked delegates.

“I’ll tell you what you’d do – panic, panic and panic. We’d run around like headless chickens panicking.

“We… wouldn’t have a clue where to start, what plan to put in place, or how to investigate the incident.”

He added frontline Garda members were “bereft of knowledge, instruction or direction when it comes to the planning and investigation of international terrorist incidents”.

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