Ireland is now “extremely vulnerable” to cyber attacks and other threats from Russia, a former senior military intelligence officer has warned.
Michael Murphy has raised serious questions around this country’s capacity to deal with any Russian retaliation if Taoiseach Leo Varadkar orders an expulsion of diplomats.
The former deputy director of military intelligence said we are “naive” in relation to intelligence and espionageand could face attacks including the cutting of electricity or water in the event of actions deemed unfriendly towards Russia.
Speaking at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Mr Varadkar confirmed that Ireland is considering actions against Russian diplomats after the nerve agent attack in Britain.
Tensions between the EU and Russia have increased in the wake of the Salisbury incident and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is conducting a review of the presence and activities of Russian diplomats or agents in Ireland.
However, Mr Murphy told RTÉ’s This Week: “If the troubles in Europe continue at the level they are at, and they are ratcheting up, we will discover how immature our system and our defence of this country is. We are at the lowest level possible.
“You can take it that a lot of foreign intelligence agencies are already in our system and it’s just a matter of the right time for that to be switched on or off. If there is an attack on our critical national infrastructure then our electricity will be turned off, our water will be turned off and that is the level that we are at.”
He also questioned Ireland’s ability to collect “good information and good intelligence” in order to make the right decision on expelling Russian officials.
“We do not have a civilian intelligence agency,” he said.
“We have military intelligence and we have Garda intelligence.
“I’m hearing a lot that our European partners will be helping us as well in making that assessment. One has to understand that there is no such thing as a friendly foreign intelligence service — all intelligence services have a purpose and some foreign intelligence services have the purpose of the economic wellbeing of their own country.”
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said it is “appropriate” to consider options in support of Britain, especially considering the information that was shared with EU leaders last week.
A Department of Justice spokesman said Government gives the “highest priority” to the State’s security adding that the gardaí and dEfence Forces work together to safeguard national security, including protecting the State and its vital interests from espionage and unlawful acts of foreign interference.
It is expected the intelligence review will be completed today and will be presented to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and justice minister before being discussed by Cabinet tomorrow.
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