Belfast Telegraph

Anti-terror measures in place for Northern Ireland game: PSNI

By Steven Beacom

Safety measures are in place for the threat of a terrorist attack at Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Norway in Belfast tomorrow, a senior police officer has said.

Security forces across the UK are on high alert following the violence in Westminster on Wednesday afternoon.

PSNI Superintendent Nigel Goddard said there was no intelligence to suggest that Sunday's match, which will attract around 18,000 spectators, was a target for terrorists. But he confirmed measures were in place to counter any threats.

"It would be impossible and foolish to say there was never any chance of a terrorist incident at large stadia such as we have in Northern Ireland," added Supt Goddard, who was a speaker at a sports safety conference hosted by the Department for Communities in Belfast yesterday.

"There is no intelligence to suggest that Sunday's match is a target, but for any large-scale public event we always plan for a number of contingencies. One of those will be a terrorist act.

"That's why in the planning and preparation stage as part of a big event all partners are involved with a significant event safety plan, which considers responses to counter terrorism threats.

"Terrorists will look for large public gatherings, and the job of the police, event organisers and security forces is to make it as unattractive and as difficult a target as possible.

"You look at something like the London incident with a potentially lone wolf-type operator. We take that into consideration and factor that into our event planning and the amount of check searches and counter surveillance completed.

"It really is a big threat in the world we live in today."

Supt Goddard declined to detail the plans in place for the game at Windsor Park.

He said: "We work hand-in-hand with all the partners putting on the event, whether that be the private security company through to the organising bodies, the Irish FA and stadium management company, to volunteering organisations.

"When we hold planning meetings all those people are around the table.

"Everyone plays their part and, primarily, most of those people are there to make sure there is public safety and that people get to the event and enjoy it and get home safely."

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