Pay up or expect blood on the streets

IF a suicide bomber launched an attack at the Guns N’ Roses concert in Slane Castle tonight, or say, at one of the concerts planned for the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, how would our emergency services cope? 

Would we manage as well — or better, or worse — than any of the European countries attacked by Islamic fascists in recent years? Is that even the right question? If an Irish Salman Adebi, festering with hate, was planning an atrocity, would our security services know enough about him, his circle, or his movements to stop him?

Anyone who has listened as carefully as we should to the warnings from senior army officers, from soldiers’ rank-and-file organisations; to the increasingly frustrated warnings offered by gardaí and others committed to the 24/7 challenge of keeping us safe, cannot be confident that we have done all we can, or even most of what we should, to protect ourselves from one of the evils active in today’s world. Even if you accept that the days immediately after an atrocity may not be the best moment to review security operations; even if you accept that, in the history of humanity, that there was hardly a security service that considered itself properly resourced, and even if you imagine that Ireland may not be considered a worthwhile target by Isis it is impossible to answer those questions with the kind of confidence today’s world demands. Any honest answer would conclude that we are dangerously exposed. Knowing this and not preparing properly almost makes us culpable in what now seems almost an inevitability.

It is not a slight on those charged with our national security to say those defences are not fit for purpose — they, after all, are the very people telling us they are not. They warn that they are grossly under-manned, grossly under-equipped and grossly under-trained. This lunacy is exacerbated by the stonewalling of official Ireland who refuse to discuss these matters, hiding behind the standard dodge — “we can’t discuss matters of national security”. Ironically, these weaknesses make us more vulnerable to attack than we should be.

Senior military sources have warned that severe cutbacks and an “alarming” exodus of specialists mean that the Defence Forces could not offer “even a minimal effective response” to a major security incident. These warnings were echoed at last month’s GRA conference when a guard based at Dublin Airport, warned “there is no plan in place” for gardaí in the event of a terrorist attack at the airport.

We are, through our own carelessness, dangerously exposed to Islamic attack — an analysis that must be extended to include the threat of Brexit, especially a hard border, to renew terror campaigns on this island. Earlier this week we saw what happens when a State agency charged with a very serious objective is inadequately resourced, poorly trained and ultimately overwhelmed. That was a bitter lesson but our entirely predictable failure to properly support security services has the capacity to be utterly tragic. Sadly, these issues are symptoms of the same malaise — our inane refusal to accept that if we want a proper security, water, health or, say education service, we have to pay for it. In this instance we may pay for that delusion in the most horrible, bloody way.


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