Terror suspect linked to Ireland was not under watch, says Kenny

Ireland ‘ill-equipped’ to handle terror threat, say security analysts

The London attack suspect who was found with an Irish document was not under surveillance by authorities in Ireland, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Speaking in Chicago, Mr Kenny said: “As I pointed out in public and in the Dáil on a number of occasions there are a small number of people in Ireland who are being monitored and observed in respect of radicalisation and matters relevant to that. In this case, these facts are being checked but my understanding is this individual was not a member of that small group.”

Amid reports that the suspect was married to a Scottish woman, Mr Kenny said that, under the EU treaties, all EU countries offer working visas to people from outside the European Union who had a relationship with a European Union citizen.

“The European Union treaties allow for very extensive issuing of visas for people who are non-nationals and non-European nationals who have a relationship with a European Union citizen. Ireland is one of those countries.”


Asked if he was concerned about the impact of the development on the future of the common travel area, which allows free movement between Ireland and Britain, Mr Kenny said that issue would be reflected on in the days to come but that he expected the arrangement to continue.

“Our common travel area with Britain is one that has existed for 90 years giving the right of travel, residency, business and to avail of social welfare benefits, so these are issues that obviously will be reflected upon in the days to come.”

He continued: “But the common travel area is one that we expect to be able to hold on to for so many different reasons on a bilateral basis with the UK.”

While Ireland and Britain are part of a common travel area, they are not members of the Schengen area which allows people to pass through European countries without passport controls.

British contacts

Mr Kenny said he wanted to “empathise with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the British people for the loss of life in London arising from this terrorist incident.”

He said that there was “daily and hourly if necessary” contact between the Irish security forces and their counterparts in Britain and in Europe on issues relating to security.

Mr Kenny was speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as part of a three-day trade visit to Chicago. Mr Kenny, who attended U2’s Joshua Tree concert on Sunday evening in the city, is due to meet a series of business leaders during his visit.

Questions about Ireland’s ability to deal with the threat of terrorism have been raised by security experts.

Michael Murphy, a former senior intelligence officer with the Defence Forces, said that there was a need to acknowledge there was a problem and that the Irish security system was not suitably equipped to counter such risks.

He told RTÉ's News at One that lack of action in this area was putting lives at risk, and there was an urgent need to acknowledge that there are "radicalised" people living in Ireland who are prepared to commit murder.

“We have a problem with intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing.”

He said that as an island off the west coast of Europe historically the only threat was internally, from the IRA.

Mr Murphy welcomed the reported plans by the new leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar to set up a special cabinet security committee, similar to the Cobra unit in the UK.

There was a need for cooperation between different government departments including the airport authority. Mr Murphy also called for the establishment of an intelligence analysis centre.

It “was a great day” to have a Taoiseach saying we need to change the way we gather intelligence, he added.