Farming survey: Only 40% believe we are ready for terror attack

The Government has stressed that “all means under the law will be availed of to protect the security of the state” as a new poll found that fewer than half of people living in rural Ireland believe sufficient safeguards have been put in place against a possible terror attack.

Farming survey: Only 40% believe we are ready for terror attack

The Irish Examiner/ICMSA opinion poll shows that 40% of those questioned believe the Government is doing enough to prevent a terror attack here, but 30% disagree, with another 30% of people neither agreeing nor disagreeing.

The opinion poll results show that just 9% of respondents believe the Government has taken sufficient measures to guard against an attack, compared with 31% who slightly agree.

However, 11% of respondents strongly disagree that there are adequate safeguards in place, while 19% slightly disagree.

Fewer older people strongly agree that the Government has done enough to ward off any type of terror attack than their younger counterparts — although overall, those aged 55 to 64 have the highest level of belief in the Government having taken sufficient action, albeit most only slightly agree.

Poll data also shows that men, and those with no off-farm income, have a slightly higher level of faith in prevention measures being in place than women and those who also work off-farm.

Just last month it was reported that Garda Security units had previously conducted searches and arrests to prevent people travelling to Syria or Iraq.

The Garda annual report, in its national security and intelligence section, said that while there was no specific information of a threat from international terrorism, An Garda Síochána “does not consider that Ireland is immune from this threat”.

It said the threat level was unchanged — that “an attack is possible but not likely” — and that this threat level was under constant review due to attacks conducted elsewhere in Europe.

The report also noted that last year the number of people travelling to, or looking to travel to, Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State (IS) and other groups “fell dramatically” and that the “concern has now shifted from those travelling to those who may be looking to return to European states”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “Of those persons who are known to have travelled from Ireland to areas of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa since 2010, the Garda authorities estimate that in the order of 20 people have travelled from Ireland to fight with ISIL or other such groups in the war in Syria and Iraq, and a small number are known to have lost their lives in conflict there.

“Given the nature of the circumstances of the conflict it is inevitably difficult to secure reliable information about these matters.

“There is a small number of people here whose activities in support of extremism give cause for concern and the Garda authorities monitor their activities very closely with a view to preventing offences and, where possible, gathering evidence to support prosecutions for criminal activity.

“It has been made clear previously that all means under the law will be availed of to protect the security of the State and the people, and this includes, where relevant, immigration and other laws.”

The spokesman added that while Ireland is not immune to a terror incident, “at present the threat assessment is that while an attack is possible it is unlikely and that there is no specific information in relation to any threat to Ireland from international terrorism”.

ICMSA president John Comer said the results could be interpreted as “the idea that a terrorist attack of the type we see in mainland Europe is unlikely to occur here and that therefore respondents are not being forced to make a judgement call on whether or not the Government is ‘doing enough’.”

Earlier this year the Police Service of Northern Ireland warned that the New IRA had developed a different kind of highly dangerous explosive bomb amid reports of alleged dissident activity in some border areas.

The latest Garda annual report highlights a “significant increase in anti-terrorism operations” by the Special Detective Unit during 2015 and 2016, particularly targeting dissident republican groups.

On a separate security-related issue, the poll shows that almost half of respondents had lost faith in Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner.

Ms O’Sullivan retired unexpectedly from her post on September 10, and the question was asked in the opinion poll shortly beforehand.

It found that 47% disagreed with the statement that “Despite recent scandals, I still have full faith in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan”, whereas 31% agreed.

Women, older farmers and those with larger agricultural holdings were more likely to back the now-departed commissioner.

Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll

The Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll was designed to provide a robust and accurate snapshot of the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of the farming community about a range of issues, both farming and social. The survey involved 569 interviews with farm dwelling adults in the Republic of Ireland.

Fieldwork was completed by Behaviour & Attitudes over a two-week period between August 13 and 27, with interviewing undertaken onsite by Behaviour & Attitudes interviewers across eight agricultural shows. The sample size is large and the data has a statistical margin of error of +/-4%.

The sampling approach involves a random probability method, with interviews being undertaken with attendees provided they worked and/or lived on a farm. 429 interviews were with farmers themselves, 31 with non family, farm employees, and the balance with spouses (66), most of whom -5 out of 6- personally work on the family farm as well.

All data is copyrighted by the Irish Examiner and Behaviour & Attitudes and should be attributed to this source where quoted.

More in this section