Information from mental health professionals, social workers, and religious leaders can be a “valuable asset” in preventing radicalisation, the Department of Justice says.
The statement follows calls from security expert Paul Gill for special teams, comprising a range of agencies, to identify potential ‘lone wolves’ and those being radicalised.
Research on lone wolf terror attacks conducted by Dr Gill of University College London found that, in 60% of cases, the attacker had told someone else about their planned attack beforehand.
Dr Gill said a law enforcement approach would not ensure the sharing of this information and that it required a “co-ordinated” strategy, including mental health clinicians, social workers, community figures, and religious leaders.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, the Department of Justice said the need for a “multi-agency approach to countering radicalisation” is considered best practice, but has to be proportionate.
“A disproportionate response may ultimately be counter-productive and lead to a stigmatisation of elements of our community and this would be regrettable,” it said.
“The input of experts such as mental health practitioners, social workers and religious leaders can be a valuable asset in ensuring that those who may be at risk of radicalisation are identified at an early point and measures are put in place to prevent such radicalisation occurring.”
The department also confirmed that it is not going to adopt an anti-extremism declaration developed by Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council.
Shaykh Al-Qadri wanted the declaration adopted as a condition in granting visas to stop “radical” clerics visiting and speaking here.
The department said: “While the thinking behind the inclusion of an anti-radicalisation declaration in visa requirements is understood, it may be viewed in some quarters as having the potential to paint all third- country nationals as potential extremists.”
Shaykh Al-Qadri said that while he wanted the declaration to have been adopted, he “understood” the department’s reasoning. However, he said he is “unhappy” at the Government’s “lack of support” for Islamic groups that stand for tolerance, pluralism, and democracy.
“The only way to tackle radicalisation and radical Islam is to invest and support those organisations and mosques,” he said.
Meanwhile, another religious leader, Imam Ibrahim Noonan, has called on the Government to “regulate mosques” and says gardaí should have the power to conduct random checks.
Speaking ahead of the 15th annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association convention tomorrow, Imam Noonan, a Galway-based convert, said he has met some young Muslim men with a “tendency towards an Isis mentality”.
The Ahmadiyya community believes in non-violence, tolerance of faiths, and separation of religion and state.
Garda Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan is to speak at the event. A garda spokesman yesterday said: “We have worked hard to gain the trust and confidence of Muslims. Working closely with minority communities leads to information gathering that can also eventually identify potential risks from a small number within their community.”
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