Fear Stalks The Land



From top: Rooftop checks during the visit of Queen Elizabeth; Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald

With Brussels in lockdown Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald spoke with a hawkish Audrey Carville on RTÉ Radio One at lunchtime today touching on terrorism and the capabilities of An Garda Síochána to deal with the same.

Grab a tay.

Audrey Carville: “Do you regard Ireland as being as vulnerable to attack as Paris?”

France Fitzgerald: “No, Ireland is not, at this point, from the information that we have, not as vulnerable. The alert levels are different. We have said all along that an attack, of course, is possible but not likely. And we do not have any information to suggest there is an attack planned here. But, of course, as a democracy and as a country whose values, all democratic countries’, really, their values are under attack from ISIS. But, you know, the level of threat in Belgium, for example, and in Brussels particularly, that is a serious, imminent threat. That’s what’s in place in Belgium. We obviously do not have have any information to suggest that we should be on that, we should be at that level of alert. That is to do obviously with the involvement of various people in Paris attacks, from Belgium and from the Brussels area, and other information that the Belgium authorities have consequently become informed of.”

Carville: “But have you changed the threat level here in Ireland since the Paris attacks? Or does it remain as it was before Friday the 13th?”

Fitzgerald: “Yes it does remain as it was. We have not changed it. There is no recommendation from An Garda Síochána, who are the security forces here, or from the National Security Committee, or indeed from any of the ministers involved that that needs to change at this point.”

Carville: “But does that not demonstrate a naivety at best because do you not accept that the threat has changed since Paris because IS have shown that they’re sophisticated and that they are able to launch attacks whenever and wherever.”

Fitzgerald: “What I would say is that if there was information available that would suggest that the threat level should be changed, of course it would be but we do have to be very sensitive obviously to the international situation. But equally we have to make our own national analysis of the level of threat which would be based on a broad assessment and, clearly, that assessment right now is saying that obviously we have to be extremely alert and vigilant and conscious of the current situation on the international situation. The situation in Ireland, there is no specific information that exists, at present, that suggests we need to change the threat level. But let me say, if that information became available, clearly we would do that. But the international situation does of course make us all far more conscious of the issues. From the moment this attack started in Paris, the co-ordinating committee in An Garda Síochána, who are responsible, the strategic committee who are responsible for security issues, were meeting overnight, were getting all of the information, were being given information and were giving information and if there was any question of you know [inaudible], clearly then that would have informed the ongoing assessment. And we continue by the way, it is a fluid situation…”

Carville: “Of course.”

Fitzgerald: “This is an ongoing assessment…”

Carville: “Are we not though, here in Ireland, Europe’s weakest link when it comes to security and intelligence? If you look, for example, at the UK. They have MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Border Forces, transport police, the Metropolitan Police. We have the gardaí. That’s it. Who are very under resourced and have been cut back to the bone.”

Fitzgerald: “I think that’s a very bleak assessment of the situation and it ignores the fact that for 40 years the Garda Síochána here and the security forces were dealing from both a policing and security point of view. We’ve a terrorist situation in Ireland where we had all of the elements of terrorism being displayed both north and south…”

Carville: “But the nature of the threat is fundamentally different.”

Fitzgerald: “Actually I don’t agree. Terrorism is terrorism. The goal is to kill people, to disrupt democracy, what is different is the nature of the suicide, that they are prepared to kill themselves in the course of the attack.”

Carville: “So how many of our police force, in terms of security and intelligence, how many of them can speak Arabic?

Fitzgerald: “Well that’s clearly an area that would not be a huge resource but there is resource available…”

Carville: “But how many of them can speak Arabic?”

Fitzgerald: “I don’t have the number… Well, the point is…”

Carville: “Is it less than five?”

Fitzgerald: “I don’t have the number, Audrey, as I said. That’s an operational matter for An Garda Síochána…”

Carville: “Shouldn’t you know that though? As minister for justice?”

Fitzgerald: “I beg your pardon?”

Carville: “Shouldn’t you know that, as minister for justice?”

Fitzgerald: “What I need to know and I’ve been in discussions with An Garda Síochána. These are operational matters that the gardaí are obviously alert to, I’ve heard discussions in meetings in relation to the various language skills that are needed, and are being used and what I want to say is that we do have a police force here who are extremely conscious and they had to deal with terrorism over a long period…”

Carville: “But have they been trained… Could I just ask you… we’re limited in time but I just want to know about their level of training. Have they been trained, for example, in having to deal with someone wearing a suicide vest?”

Fitzgerald: “Of course, the gardaí are training, have been trained in and have been involved in very sophisticated training in relation to all of these issues with both international, internationally and here in Ireland with the Defence Forces. They’ve been involved in quite a number of exercises.”

Carville: “These are gardaí who would be first on the scene of any terror attack. They have received training in dealing with people wearing suicide vests or brandishing kalishnikov rifles? Because it’s our understanding that they’ve received no training in the last three years, detectives and Special Branch.”

Fitzgerald: “Well, what An Garda Síochána have told me is that they have been involved in the appropriate training exercises in recent times, that they have been involved with police forces from other countries and have done quite a number of training exercises. Of course what one has to be conscious of, is that we, you mentioned MI5 or the CIA, we’ve had a different situation here. We do not have organisations obviously of the scale and scope of those but we have an organisation proportionate to our country and proportionate to the situations we have faced in the past and which we now face. But I would say, again, that the situation obviously, we have to be remain very alert to it. It’s a fluid situation and it has to be an ongoing assessment by all of us here, in relation to the security threat and how we need to build resources and resilience to this terrifying possibility.”

Carville: “Have you, for example, as Justice Minister, along with the Defence Minister and the Taoiseach, have you sat down and gone through what decisions you would make if one of our major theatres or buildings had a hostage-type situation?

Fitzgerald: “Well, obviously what we have is a national security committee that has been discussing all of these issues…”

Carville: “Have you attended that meeting, minister?”

Fitzgerald: “That is an official meeting, the meetings I attend are the relevant meetings in relation to discussing these issues with ministers and of course, yes, we have been having those meetings recently.”

Carville: “But I understand the national security committee, which meets to discuss these issues, politicians don’t attend it, and it met after the Paris attacks and you weren’t there. Is that correct?

Fitzgerald: “Ministers don’t attend those meetings…”

Carville: Why not?

Fitzgerald:Because we have our own meetings. We have our own separate meetings. And can I say to you Audrey that, because security, the very nature of security, is that you don’t speak publicly about every single element of what you’re discussing and how you would deal with varying situations. But, of course, as ministers and the Taoiseach, in particularly, was very concerned to ensure that the various resources and possibilities for reaction, if needed and hopefully they won’t be, were in place and all of that is being continually assessed and monitored. And just this week, for example after the meeting in Brussels, I announced that we would be joining the Schengen Information System and that is something that we… the UK joined in April of this year. That’s to exchange real-time information with other police forces across Europe…”

Listen back in full here

47 thoughts on “Fear Stalks The Land

  1. ahjayzis

    Once you start picking up how often Fitzgerald uses ‘clearly’, ‘obviously’ and ‘of course’ you stop taking her seriously. Terry Proned to within an inch of her life.

    1. Mike

      Carville: “But seriously, don’t you think you’re a complete thicko to not be expecting a big, sexy, sensationalist bloodbath for us to roll repeat footage of and report on, endlessly?”

  2. PaddyJoe

    They don’t have any Arabic speakers. Naughty of Carville to press it ;-)

    “A number of sources have said that neither section has members who can speak or read Arabic, posing obvious limitations: from monitoring Arabic communications — both online and in phone taps — to reading any Arabic documentation.

    It also limits their ability to talk to people on the street and during interrogation. The latter results in the State spending money on interpretation services, which can also affect detention periods for suspects.

    Both the London Met and MI5 have no shortages in this area and MI5 recruits civilian language specialists.

    But some sources within the units here play down the affects of not having Arabic speakers, saying they converse with people in English. They said S&I have the use of expertise outside the force or through Interpol.

    A Garda spokesman said the organisation had “linguistic capabilities to meet our needs”.”


    1. FreshFish


      I bet the guards speak to each other in Irish too so them Arab lads don’t understand the craic

    2. All the good ones fly south for winter

      [A] bullet sounds the same in every language Nelson Madela 1933 – 2001 Stewie Griffin.

  3. Joe cool

    I’m surprised she hasn’t ordered a report. Do de lads speak.arabic. Is there enough pea shooters in case of attack. The findings of said report will be released after the election due to judiciary red tape. This woman is clueless and I worry for us if she’s in charge of anything

  4. Spaghetti Hoop

    Fitzgerald states several times ‘if the information was available’ – as if it drops out of the sky and onto her lap. What an excuse not to make a decision. Go out and find the information you copper-outer!

  5. ProvingGround

    Surely Simon Covney – the Minister for Defense – would sit in on such meetings with gardaí?

    Cause, you know, men’s work and all that!

  6. Junkface

    Ireland is NOT prepared for an attack like the recent Paris one. Our Government is assuming that we are not a target, but if the Daesh or whatever they call it run out of options in mainland Europe because of the amount of Armed Police and vehicles patrolling their cities, they might turn to an easier target because they don’t give a damn where they attack. The Irish Government is prepared for nothing! And the Garda Are severely underfunded and stretched. They can’t even handle Dublins scummy ASBO kids nevermind terrorists.

    1. julomoppet

      Do you really think Ireland is a target for Daesh? there are dozens of cities to target in Europe before Dublin. Dublin is probably one of the safest place in Europe when it comes to islamic terrorist…

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        If Daesh are in pursuit of making headlines, aggravating anti-Muslim sentiment, wielding destruction and attacking so-called Western cultures then Dublin is just as much a target as any other European city.

    2. scottser

      i think you may have stumbled upon the solution to our problem. if we can somehow get the muslim kids into petty theft, drug taking, illiteracy and early pregnancy like our own kids, sure they’ll soon realise their values are a fallacy like our own and then we can all get along, unified in our despair at the next generation.

    1. Mike

      I know Jesus wept. I mean Fitzgerald is as big a bullpooer as the next minister, but this is just hard to listen to all round

  7. Mr. T.

    All of our Ministers are faces only. They don’t form policy or genuinely control their briefs. They’re little more than the nameplate on the department door. They are chosen based on their belief in and compliance with whatever ideology is driving the motives behind a particular department. Varadkar and privatization, Coveney and joining NATO. Sutherland decided that Coveney would be minister for health and probably Taoiseach after he’s done that.

    Your votes don’t mean anything if you keep voting FFFG. They are entirely corrupted.

    1. phil

      Mr T I think you might be right , but the politicians rather than ask us have decided that we are going to play the same ‘sport/game’ as most of the rest of Europe the US and most of the rest of the world , and I think thats fair enough, it would take a huge groundswell of activism for politicians to move away from globalism/capitalism , biased support of a certain middle eastern country.

      We just cant be self sufficient in this world any more, we need globalized medicine, technology, etc etc…

      I really would like it if our Government could say , Hey Britain , America , France and Germany, we really like you guys and benefit hugely from trading with you but the amount of arms you sell, and who you sell them to , and this attitude of intervention in the world when your ‘interests’ are perceived to be threatened makes us really uncomfortable.

      1. Megan Allen

        And they would say ‘fine we’ll take our business elsewhere ‘ and Ireland would shrivel up like a prune in under 24 hours. And that would surely be uncomfortable.

    2. Pip

      This is exactly why it’s so terrible tedious to listen to the media browbeating Minister X or Y about what are YOU doing about it and what can YOU guarantee, Minister. Personalised to the point of uselessness.

  8. phil

    There you have 2 state employees doing their very best to support the Gardai and actually achieving the opposite ….

    My missus used to get the odd call from The Gardai to help with translation services , something she volunteered for , It was only once they had a suspect in custody , and I believe always in the presence of the suspects lawyer , mostly done by conference call, seemed to work fine …

  9. Garsehole

    “the various resources and possibilities for reaction, hopefully they won’t be [needed]”

    ah, that’s reassuring then. Sleep tight, everybody

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Perhaps they think structuring a plan and a strategy would be bad luck?
      Or they’re waiting to see what the Brits do (as per usual).

      from the Department of Defence’s publication ‘A National Risk Assessment for Ireland’ , 2012;

      5.4.2. Terrorist Activity
      Acts of terrorism include a wide variety of activities including, but not limited to, bombings, shootings, kidnapping and malign CBRN. An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces provide the Government with an assessment of the current security threat.
      The risk of a malign CBRN incident in this country is deemed to be low. However, wider availability of technical information/materials has resulted in an increased capability of terrorist/criminal groups worldwide. The Department of Justice and Equality is the Lead Department and An Garda Síochána is the Lead Agency in responding to a malign CBRN incident.10

  10. DaithiG

    There is little to no threat to Ireland from ISIS, because dem ISIS lads know that if they pulled any stunt we’d send some North Kerry hurlers around to bate the sh*te out of em.

  11. DaithiG

    To be fair though, Carville is pulling a Fox news on us with the reference to suicide vests and AK47s

    1. Caroline


      Rising panic?

      Eyes swivelling independently?

      When there’s not someone to give you the back of their hand, reach for Joe Jacob’s Disco Biscuits.

  12. Kolmo

    Lockdown?? Does anyone else hate the rapid adoption of US prison and military speak by the media, and then it turns up in Irish management or sales meetings like a plague by wannabe hotshots….melt

  13. Ming

    All this with absolutely no proof that this was Islamic fundamentalists.

    Yeah, sure, we’ll just take ye’re word for it.

    Cause ye’d never lie.

    1. Megan Allen

      What kind of proof are you looking for here exactly…Funny thing is terrorist groups do own up to their poo because they do it for a political reason. They’re not worried about being ‘caught’ that’s the point. So why would ISIS claim it? Remember the Boston marathon bombing Al Qaeda was all like ‘ hell nah that wasn’t us. Pressure cookers for reals? This is poorly planned and unorganized. No we don’t run with these dudes’ that’s not a direct quote but pretty much what they said.

  14. Ivor

    Our way of dealing with the IRA was through informants. How many ISIS informants does Special Branch have? We depend on getting tip offs from other states.

    A country of our size and nature is a soft target. It’s also a low value target. The probability of an attack on Ireland is – relatively – low. That doesn’t mean that we should not be at least somewhat prepared. The Gardai put much, much more effort into spying on water water protesters than they do on ISIS. Clearly Paul Murphy and co are minutes away from launching suicide attacks at the 02, Croke Park and Newgrange.

  15. eoin hurley

    The ISIS attacks in Paris were planned over unencrypted sms, Facebook and the bomber himself gave an interview in English saying he was going to attack Paris. what makes him think some of the major powers have fantastic intelligence services.

  16. Pat O'Leary

    Thought it was a brilliant interview – finally an RTE journalist with the balls to ask the hard questions instead of fawning over Ministers as RTE normally do. Frightening that this woman is Minister for Justice – had better pray we’re not attacked, if we’re relying on her to prevent same or coordinate a response we’re all fooked.

    1. ReproBertie

      We’re not relying on her to do anything. Despite her ineptitude the garda and military intelligence units are all over any people of interest and have been since their arrival into the country.

  17. Mr. T.

    Almost all Jihadist terrorists in Europe were already known to police and most were dysfunctional drop outs with criminal records. Many were under surveillance. There is a good case to suggest that some western intelligence groups are radicalizing these men, filling their heads with rubbish about causes and heroism and sending them off with explosives strapped around them. Their ‘leaders’ are never seen or caught or blow themselves up.

    The point of it all is to destabilize Europe, North Africa and the Middle East (the EMEA economic zone) and subvert democracy, impose pseudo-marial law and control the rights and movements of the populations. And why? To hand power from the people to the political and business elite so they can operate without the restrictions of sovereign laws (take TTIP for example).

    This terrorism is not at all what it appears to be. It’s being orchestrated at an international level by governments, elected representatives, some of whom know exactly what is going on.

    And before the lazy obvious jeering half-wit tin foil comments, just remember you need to read as much as you can, watch patterns, watch who is being placed into positions of power and who is doing it. Already you can see the newspapers are corrupted and full of misinformation.

    It’s easy to be lazy and let it all happen and not challenge it. Those people are the ones who draw their own demise upon themselves.

    1. ReproBertie

      “There is a good case to suggest that some western intelligence groups are radicalizing these men, filling their heads with rubbish about causes and heroism and sending them off with explosives strapped around them.”

      So what is the case to suggest this?

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