Wednesday, 5 May 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
23. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether Ireland can also be targeted by international terrorists in the wake of the Madrid bombings, particularly during its Presidency of the EU, and on the occasion of President Bush’s visit in June 2004; and the measures being taken to ensure the safety of the State and its citizens in the event of such an attack. [9399/04]
149. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he proposes to take steps in conjunction with his EU colleagues to avert or deal with the situation in the event of terrorist attacks; if there will be provision of adequate warning and surveillance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9339/04]
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána maintains an up to date assessment of the threat of attack against this jurisdiction from international terrorist groupings through analysis of intelligence gathered from domestic and international sources. In the latter regard, I am further informed that the Garda Síochána has developed excellent lines of communication and co-operation with police and security services in the European Union and further afield. I understand that this ongoing sharing of intelligence enables a rapid operational response to be put in place where circumstances so warrant.
Moreover, on 19 March last, I chaired an extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union at which a draft declaration on combating terrorism was agreed. This draft declaration was subsequently approved by the European Council on 25 March. The declaration contains a range of measures aimed at enhancing member states’ responses at Union level to the terrorist threat arising from the Madrid bombings.
With regard to the response of the emergency services in the event of a terrorist attack, planning for major emergencies has been ongoing for many years at local level and co-ordinated on a regional basis, in accordance with the Government’s major emergency planning framework.
The focus of this emergency planning work continues to be on taking the necessary precautions to, at best, prevent or, at least, minimise the risks from terrorist attacks, ensuring that the protection available to the public is maximised, putting mechanisms in place to support the emergency response agencies and providing co-ordination for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
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