–  Ireland does not have anything like the level of trained security staff that responded to the London attack in eight minutes –

Ireland does not have anything like the level of trained security staff that responded to the London attack in eight minutes, a Fianna Fail TD has said.

Spokesperson for North South Bodies and Cross Border Cooperation Declan Breathnach is extremely concerned about Ireland’s security and defence arrangements, because of the closure of Garda stations – and the subsequent loss of local eyes and ears – and because of the slow uptake in a major European crime prevention information system.

Up till recently, Ireland had not implemented integration into the Schengen Information System, described by Sir Julian King, the European commissioner responsible for security, as critical for member countries to combat terrorism.  A €4 million fund has now been allocated and An Garda Síochána is engaging an ICT contractor to carry out the work required for Ireland to join SIS.

Deputy Breathnach raised a Parliamentary Question this week to find out the timeframe on the work, which he believes is absolutely critical and needs to be given urgent priority.

Post Brexit it will be vital for Irish and UK cooperation in accessing this enormous data stream, building on the long tradition of sharing information between An Garda Siochána, the PSNI and the UK Police force.

Recently, Detective Chief Superintendent Hugh Hume told politicians at the Stormont Justice Committee that Brexit negotiations need to protect a modern approach to the transfer of criminals and terror suspects.

“I am fully in agreement with Chief Hume, that the potential loss of the European Arrest Warrant would be a huge concern,” says Deputy Breathnach.  “The UK’s second highest number of extradition requests were made to Ireland. Post Brexit, Ireland will be an easy access point as our border will be the only land border between Britain and the EU.”

Successive Ministers of Justice including Dermot Ahern have had on-going concerns about national readiness in the event of a terror attack.

“I know for sure that we do not have the level of trained staff in our security services to deal with terrorists in the timeframe we saw in London.   We need to increase our fully trained police force and halt the closing of Garda stations, as the eyes and ears are no longer in our communities and towns, and this has to change.”

-Ends-

Johanna Walsh, Office of Declan Breathnach T.D., Leinster House, Dublin 2

(T) 01 6183549 (Email)  declan.breathnach@oireachtas.ie