US, Ireland 'must stay vigilant against terror'

Thu, Sep 22, 2011, 01:00

The need for vigilance and continued cooperation between the US and Ireland in the face of terrorist threats had never been more apparent, US Attorney General Eric Holder has said on a visit to Dublin.

In an address to the Institute of International and European Affairs yesterday, he noted that six out of almost 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks were Irish citizens, and hundreds more were of Irish descent.

“Even though our efforts to thwart attacks, to investigate potential plots, and to vigorously prosecute terrorists have met with increasing success over the years, the need to remain vigilant – and to face these threats together – has never been more apparent.

“And we can all be encouraged – and proud – that the United States and Ireland have established a strong record of cooperation in carrying out this critical work.”

He acknowledged that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, “there were times when, in an attempt to respond to terror threats, our government veered off course, and failed to live up to our most sacred principles”.

But he added: “This administration has worked vigorously, and tirelessly, to turn the page on past mistakes and missteps.

“In fact, among the very first actions that President Obama took two-and-a-half years ago was directing government leaders, not only to redouble our focus on preventing and combatting terror threats, but also to return to an era in which the costs and benefits of every action taken in the name of national security were carefully weighed.

“He called us to work in close consultation with our allies to rebuild the bonds of trust that had been frayed, and to renew and reaffirm America’s commitment to the rule of law and to the ideals that have strengthened our nation and sustained our most cherished international partnerships.” The US Justice Department which he heads had made, “critical revisions to detention and interrogation policies, renounced the use of torture, and strengthened our ability to bring terrorists to justice in our civilian courts”.

He added: “And despite the internal obstacles we have been forced to meet, we are continuing to work, and to engage the help of international partners, to advance efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.” Mr Holder said he began each day by receiving a briefing on the most urgent global terror threats: “I know that – in distant countries, and within our own borders – there are people eager to, and actively plotting to, harm the

The event was chaired by former justice minister Nora Owen and the attendance included Attorney General Máire Whelan, US Ambassador Daniel Rooney, former tánaiste and justice minister Michael McDowell and former Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said Mr Holder held a meeting yesterday with Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter.