Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Garda warning ahead of state visits

Gardai are relying on 'luck' to prevent a major terrorist atrocity, frontline officers have warned

Gardai are relying on "luck" to prevent a major terrorist atrocity, frontline officers have warned.

Just weeks before the state visits of the British Queen and US President Barack Obama, the Garda Representative Association said the force was so under-resourced it was "reckless endangerment".

Damien McCarthy, GRA president, said anti-terrorist funding was slashed under austerity measures, leaving it a mere fraction of policing budgets in Northern Ireland to combat security threats ahead of the Olympics.

"This force is just getting by," he said.

"We can't always rely on luck. If a major emergency or terrorist action was unleashed, then the resources on paper may not match those on the street."

Mr McCarthy, who speaks for Garda rank and file, added: "This is reckless endangerment."

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the security threat in Ireland and Britain remained "severe" but he insisted the force had a proven track record in thwarting terrorism.

"I have every confidence in the professional capacity of the Garda Siochana to deal with major incidents," he said.

Mr Shatter said no one could rule out the risk of a terrorist attack but pointed out cooperation between police on both sides of the border was at its best and had already helped prevent potentially disastrous incidents.

He also insisted extra resources would be made available for policing the official state visits next month.

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