Latest: Man arrested in Wexford is released; Gardai to get third more armed response officers

Update 7.50pm: A man arrested in Wexford in connection with the London terror attack has been released from custody. 

He was detained yesterday afternoon after documents found during the course of the investigations linked him to one of the attackers Rachid Redouane.

Update 6.09pm: The Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan says members of the force will be engaging in more exercises with the Defence Forces in preparation for a terror attack.

She has been responding to criticism that the gardaí are not prepared for a major incident here.

She has also confirmed that there will be 20 more officers in the Armed Response Unit by the end of the month.

Commissioner O’Sullivan has been outlining the steps they are taking in the wake of the recent attacks in the UK.

"We also have Operation Bilberry, which brings together a number of our own members from right around the country, to make sure that there’s an understanding of what a response would be.

"That’s going to increase even more - and what you are going to see is by the end of this month we will have more live exercises.

"That isn’t because we have any specific intelligence, but I think that’s the reality - that we have to have an agile response to be able to deal with instance as they occur, not matter what quarter they come from".

It comes as a security analyst warns Ireland would struggle to cope with any such terrorist attack.

Declan Power says any approach needs to be centralised in a new Government body.

"In the event of such an attack happening - which is a real possibility - we have a few distinct, natural elements in our favour being an island (and) having a small population.

"But if there was a mass casualty event we would struggle because of the number of first responders we would need, getting them into a location if it was in a city centre, like Dublin.

"We don’t have any dedicated air frames for Air Ambulance; we do have Air Corps services (which) can provide that.

"They may have war games for this on paper or table-top exercises, but we’ve never seen a mass casualty exercise scenario in the city centre of Dublin or Cork like they have done in the UK."

He says: "We can only conclude that that would be a more difficult experience than some of our European neighbours - but I don’t think there’s any country in Europe that would be 100% well equipped to deal with a mass casualty scenario".

"The bottom line is we do have a lot of individual high quality expertise, operationally speaking, within the emergency services - within An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces - but it’s knitting that together, and that’s where we don’t see the efforts being put it".

Update 3.30pm: London Bridge killer Rachid Redouane was not involved in any terror cell during his time here, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan has said.

Noirin O’Sullivan has accepted, however, that he went through a "normal process of immigration" in Dublin.

Redouane, who claimed to be Moroccan-Libyan, had previously been refused asylum in the UK in 2009.

His marriage to a UK citizen in Dublin in 2012, giving him an EU travel permit, has prompted claims this country is being used by Islamic militants as a back door into Britain.

"The indications at this time are that this individual lived in this country for a short period of time, going through a normal process of immigration," Ms O’Sullivan said during an international policing conference in Dublin.

"Thereafter, he left and went with his wife, who is a UK citizen, to the UK and we are satisfied with the inquiries we have made at this time, that there is no link to terrorism in this country.

"We are also satisfied from the indications from our partners (in the UK) that that is also the case."

Garda inquiries into Redouane’s time in Ireland currently centre around suspected immigration offences.

Two people believed to have documents linked to the killer have been arrested.

One Garda source said there is no knowledge of Redouane being involved with other international terror suspects who have been under surveillance in Ireland, and that he lived an apparently normal life during his time in Dublin.

But the source added that investigators were "still shaking the tree".

Ms O’Sullivan defended Ireland’s security response to the international terror threat, saying there had been a number of arrests and deportations in recent times.

A number of individuals are also being "monitored very, very closely" and some of them are before the courts.

The Garda chief said her force was working with UK counterparts within an hour of the London Bridge attacks at the weekend.

She also pointed to a beefing-up of armed police in Ireland, with numbers in the armed support unit to increase by a third by the end of this month.

"There will be more visible, overt armed patrols," she said.

"People shouldn’t be afraid of that. That is actually to make sure the public are safe."

Ms O’Sullivan said counter-terrorism investigations around the country "make sure we know exactly what is happening in communities".

Irish detectives are attempting to trace whether another of the London Bridge attackers, Khuram Shazad Butt, had spent any time in Dublin.

It is understood some members of the Muslim community in Dublin have been contacted.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, imam of the Islamic Centre of Ireland, said he thought he recognised the killer’s face after seeing police pictures but later said he had no idea why he thinks the face is familiar.

Reporting by Press Association

Update 3pm: The Garda Commissioner has indicated the armed support unit will be given an addition 20 officers in the next 10 days.

Noirin O’Sullivan said the moves were part of a two pronged approach to ensure response times were up to speed around the country.

Responding to recent concerns expressed by the ASGI, the Commissioner reassured people that Gardai would be equipped to deal with any attack.

"We will have an additional 20 people in place by June 22.

"On top of that ... we have an competition underway to increase our armed support units across the regions to ensure there is a 24-7 response capability."

The Commissioner made her comments as Gardaí are continuing to question a man in connection with the London Bridge terror attack.

The man in his 30’s is being held under armed guard in Wexford after documentation linked him to one of the attackers Rachid Redouane.

Meanwhile, senior Gardai say they’re confident that they’d be able to respond to a terrorist attack in Dublin city centre within 8 minutes.

They’ve been meeting with police chiefs from around the world to discuss policing tactics and co-operation.

John Twomey, Assistant Commissioner of Operations says Gardai met within 2 hours of the London attack.

"We are happy that our response (to an incident) whould be of a similar time to that seen in the UK"

Update 12.49pm: Front line policing staff require specialised counter terrorism training acording to the President of the Association of Gardai Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

Antoinette Cunningham said the current lack of training was a major failing and she isn’t sure what the capabilities of the force would be, to deal with a major attack.

She told Today with Sean O’Rourke there needed to be an integrated approach to training.

She added that she was concerned at the current low number of Gardai and said the numbers in community policing have been ’decimated’ which is very concerning.

However she said there has been huge success with the Garda inter-cultural office and Gardai are reaching out to many different nationalities and communities.


 

Most Read in Ireland