‘Stepping stone’ fears over Islamic terrorism existed for years

Former justice minister Dermot Ahern
Former justice minister Dermot Ahern

Concerns that Islamic terrorists would use Ireland as a “stepping stone” to enter Britain have existed for many years, former justice minister Dermot Ahern has said.

Gardaí are investigating after it emerged that Rachid Redouane, one of the terrorists responsible for the latest London attack, had lived in Rathmines in Dublin before moving to Britain.

Mr Ahern said the Government must ensure our security services are adequately staffed and trained for an attack. He said he is not surprised Redouane lived in Ireland for a time.

The closure of Garda stations and replacement of gardaí with community officers is also leaving Ireland more vulnerable to terrorists, said Mr Ahern. “With the common travel and relationship we have with the UK and the easy borders that we have, we were always very conscious that Ireland could be used as a stepping stone,” he said.

“I am not surprised, from 2004 and 2011, I was Minister for Foreign Affairs and then subsequently Minister for Justice and over the years I would have had regular briefings by An Garda Síochána in relation to the on-going paramilitary threats in the country, homegrown terrorist and indeed from outside — mainly Jihadists.”

Mr Ahern said that when he left office in 2011 there were 14,500 gardaí compared to 12,500 now. He said restoring the force should be a “matter of priority”.

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