Irish fans urged to stay in fan zones at Euro 2016
Security expert says supporters should have plan of action for potential terrorist attack
French military patrol at a fan zone near the Eiffel Tower before the start of the European Championship in Paris. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Irish football fans have been urged to stick to designated fan zones while at the European Championship and to have a plan of escape ready in the event of a terrorist attack.
Upwards of 100,000 supporters from across the island are expected to follow the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to France for the tournament, but the country remains on a state of high alert following terrorist attacks in January and November of last year.
Tensions have been heightened following the detention of a French national accused of attempting to transport an armoury of weapons and explosives across the Ukrainian border with the intention of carrying out atrocities in the coming weeks.
Authorities are particularly wary of a homegrown threat from French citizens, and trained anti-terrorist emergency response teams will be within 20 minutes of each stadium should an attack take place.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio, security analyst Declan Power urged ticketless supporters to stay away from the tournament altogether, and warned Irish fans going to France that they will be among the primary targets for militants.
“Unlike other situations that Irish citizens have travelled to that may have been dangerous, in this situation Irish and other European citizens are the target, that’s a reality,” he said.
“There are going to be policed fan zones, the French will have a lot of overt and covert security in those areas. So if you’re going to celebrate after and before, those areas are probably going to have a higher level of managed security than unofficial areas.
“Be aware too that the French can’t contain every threat, so have a little plan of what you’re going to do if there’s a detonation or if something happens.”
In a statement released today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan asked fans going to Euro 2016 to remain vigilant at all times, to carry their passport with them and to be aware of emergency numbers.
Mr Power also offered some candid advice for what people should do if they find themselves in an emergency situation.
“You don’t have the luxury of acting like a complete innocent. If something happens, what leads to mass casualties is that most people act like ordinary people and freeze, they wonder what’s happening and become like petrified rabbits in the headlights.
“If something happens, move. Momentum is what will save your life nine times out of 10. Take action: get down, take cover, start moving. Crawl away and as soon as you feel you’re out of the line of fire move, run. If you stay in one position and curl up like a petrified rabbit you will be a victim,” he said.