Garda security chiefs have left “nothing to chance” in their preparations for expected trips by both President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny to France for Ireland’s Euro 2016 matches.
Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has briefed the National Security Council on the force’s assessment of the terror threat to France during the competition.
The security assessment has been given to the Department of the Taoiseach and Department of Foreign Affairs and, it is understood, to Áras an Uachtaráin.
Security sources told the Irish Examiner they were “very conscious” of the terror threat for those attending Euro 2016 and had “advised accordingly”.
The close protection attached to both the Taoiseach and President, members of the Special Detective Unit, will accompany them for trips to France. Sources said they will “liaise closely” with French police.
Fears have heightened with the arrest of a French national in Ukraine suspected of exporting an arsenal of high-powered weaponry for terror attacks during the championship.
Eight gardaí have already left for the Euros, where they will assist French police in their interaction with Irish fans, including acting as “spotters”. This is part of an existing agreement and officers previously travelled to Euro 2012 in Poland.
Six gardaí will be based at the three locations where Ireland are playing in their group: Paris, Bordeaux, and Lille. Two will remain at the International Police Co-operation Centre.
It is estimated that between 65,000 and 75,000 Irish fans will travel to France.
A source said fans should be “very conscious of their security”.
He said the French state can “only do so much”, referencing the 90,000 police and paramilitaries being deployed there.
The Department of Foreign Affairs urges everyone travelling to France to “exercise a high degree of caution”. It said that due to ongoing threats to France its Government had advised a “higher level of vigilance”.
The British Foreign Office website tells its citizens that there “is a high threat from terrorism” in France.
It provides a specific warning in relation to possible targets, including fan zones: “During Euro 2016, stadiums, fan zones, venues broadcasting the tournament, and transport hubs and links represent potential targets for terrorist attacks.
“You should be vigilant at all times, especially in areas hosting Euro 2016 events, and follow the advice of local French authorities.”
The French government has launched a mobile phone app (in French) to alert the public in the event of a terrorist attack.
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