herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

British 'dummy runs' revealed security flaws at Rosslare Europort

The Garda Emergency Response Unit has taken part in emergency training exercises at
Drogheda Port Picture: Colin O'Riordan
The Garda Emergency Response Unit has taken part in emergency training exercises at Drogheda Port Picture: Colin O'Riordan

A major operation targeting Islamic State (IS) extremists at our biggest ports began after UK authorities identified serious security weaknesses when they carried out "dummy runs" here.

The Herald can reveal that British security services carried out security checks by driving undercover into Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford on ferries from ports in Wales. They encountered a "lack of major security".

This in turn led to meetings between gardai and their UK counterparts, which led gardai to set up an investigation codenamed Operation Mutiny.

Details of this operation were first disclosed in yesterday's Herald and it has been ongoing for a number of weeks at Dublin Port as well as in Co Wexford.

"The British authorities did dummy runs from Wales, which effectively showed a major lack of security in Rosslare. It showed that it was easy to get stuff into and out of the port," a source said.

Threat

It is not known what items the British agents used on their test runs to Irish ports from Wales.

"While it might have been easy to do this a number of months ago, it surely is not now and everything has been tightened up considerably," the source added.

The threat level to Ireland from Islamic extremist attacks is still described as "moderate".

This means an attack is possible but not likely, but a team of specialist armed gardai has been monitoring the threat locally despite the gangland feud that erupted in the capital this year.

The decision to keep the threat level as "moderate" was made in late July by the Government following a meeting between the Taoiseach, the Garda Commissioner and the Defence Forces Chief of Staff at Government Buildings.

The major concern that led to Operation Mutiny being set up by gardai was that IS terrorists would use poor security at our country's ports to get into the UK, rather than launch an attack here.

This has meant that garda management decided to offer vast amounts of overtime to officers who were willing to work extra hours in the capital's port as well as at Rosslare.

It is understood that, in Rosslare Europort alone, garda management have sanctioned 100 hours of overtime every single day as part of the operation.

Far more vehicles and people are being searched at Irish ports than had been the case just two months ago.

Apart from regular garda units, the policing of the ports has led to a significant heavily armed garda presence from the Garda Regional Support Unit (RSU).

Seizures

While no IS terrorists have been intercepted or arrested as part of the operation, gardai have made a number of "significant seizures" of stolen property.

Armed officers first began patrolling Rosslare and Dublin ports in March after the Brussels terror attacks, but these activities have been greatly increased in recent weeks.

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