Garda armed response units to grow by a third within weeks
Commissioner twenty extra officers will join Garda’s Armed Support Unit
Floral tributes near the scene of Saturday’s attacks in London. Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said gardaí can match the response time of London police in the event of an attack. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Deputy Commissioner John Twomey (left) speak to reporters after a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Wednesday. Photograph: Collins
The number of armed gardaí on Irish streets will rise by a third within weeks in response to a spate of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said.
Twenty extra officers will join the Garda’s Armed Support Unit (ASU) within the next fortnight, the Commissioner said, speaking after a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Dublin on Wednesday.
Recruitment is underway to bring in the extra armed officers she said, adding that a series of live training exercises were planned for later this month as well as more “visible, overt armed patrols” in Dublin.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of that. That is to make sure the public are safe,” she said, although she said gardaí were satisfied the current threat of a terrorist attack in Ireland remained low.
“By June 22nd, we will have increased the capacity of the Armed Support Unit by one third. So in other words we will have an additional 20 people going into that unit,” she said.
People associated with one of the London killers, the Moroccan-born Rachid Redouane, who married a London-born woman in Ireland five years ago, are “being monitored very closely”, she added.
Regarding the involvement of Rachid Redouane, who spent time in Ireland, in the attack, Ms O’Sullivan said gardaí were in touch with intelligence and law enforcement counterparts in the UK within an hour of the incident and within two hours of the attack were aware Redouane had spent time in Ireland.
She said gardaí were satisfied there was “no link to terrorism in this country” but confirmed that people who associated with Redouane were “being monitored very closely”, with one detained in Wexford.
She appealed to those within Muslim communities to come forward, in confidence, to gardaí with information should they have concerns about anyone.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said gardaí have carried out a “paper exercise” which suggests armed police in Dublin would be able to deal with a terrorist incident within eight minutes, as happened in London on Saturday.
All three attackers were shot dead within eight minutes of police being notified of the attack at the London Bridge and Borough Market.
“We did a paper exercise to see what our response capacity would have been at the same time of the incident in London, and we are happy that we would have nine armed units in the vicinity of Dublin city centre, and we are happy that our response would have been in a similar time with that in the UK,” he said.