More than 1,000 personnel to secure area south of Border for G8
Major Garda and Defence Forces operation being put in place ahead of Fermanagh event
Garda Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny speaking during a G8 briefing at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan. PhotograpH: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A major Garda and Defence Forces security operation is being put in place involving more than 1,000 personnel to secure the area just south of the Border from where the G8 summit is set to take place in Co Fermanagh.
It is the first major security operation in which the Garda has based so much of its information and intelligence gathering on the study of websites and the Facebook and Twitter accounts linked to known international anti-establishment groups and organised protest groups.
The summit, which begins in just under a fortnight, is a security threat flashpoint because of the number of world leaders that will be present, including those from the US, UK, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy, France and Japan, with US military personnel assisting the security operation for the summit.
While it takes place at the Lough Erne resort north of the Border near Enniskillen, a major security operation is being put in place just south of the Border to control any violence that may flare on the fringes of the summit and also to prevent the Republic being used as a launching pad for demonstration or terrorist groups, from both Ireland and abroad.
Some 900 gardaí will be in the region for the period covering the summit on June 17th and 18th and the lead-up to it.
Gardaí will place a particular emphasis on securing the Border, splitting the Borderlands into strategic policing areas, with major static checkpoints established for up to five days to monitor any threat that may be moving between the jurisdictions. While hundreds of public order unit gardaí will be on standby on a 24-hour basis in fleets of vehicles to be moved into position if rioting or any other on-street disorder flares, Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny said the Garda would adopt a high tolerance approach to protestors, whom he said were entitled to gather and demonstrate.
“But if there is trouble we will be ready to deal with it and we are confident we have the resources in place,” he said.
Gardaí have asked the Courts Service to have special late-night and early-morning sittings available to process any protestors arrested.
The Defence Forces is also aiding the operation, though theirs is a support role and the numbers of personnel are much smaller than for the Garda operation. Bomb disposal teams will be on standby in the region to deal with any suspicious devices on the southern side of the Border. Garda sources said that following a number of viable devices being found and hoax alerts triggered during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Dublin two years ago, the bomb disposal teams will “almost certainly” be needed over the key five-day period.
As well as public order gardaí, there will also be armed members from the Emergency Response Unit, armed Regional Support Unit, Dog Unit, Water Unit, Special Detective Unit and National Surveillance Unit.
Garda and Defence Forces helicopters will also be in the skies for surveillance.
Gardaí say that while they are monitoring the threat from dissident republicans active on both sides of the Border, checks have also been put in place at airports and ferry ports to identify a wide range of foreign protest groups – from anti-capitalist factions to anti-war protestors – to keep on top of any threat posed by them and also any threat from foreign terrorist groups.
In the event of an extreme security threat, such as a terrorist attack or very large-scale rioting, Garda had the option of turning off the mobile phone network to block those involved from communicating and co-ordinating trouble.