herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Gardai and FAI take part in Euros crisis exercise amid terrorism fears

Minister Charlie Flanagan
Minister Charlie Flanagan

Gardai and officials from the FAI have taken part in crisis training exercises in France ahead of next month's European Championships, the Herald has learned.

Eight senior gardai will help the French authorities in the policing of Euro 2016 for the duration of Ireland's participation in the finals.

Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald told yesterday's Cabinet meeting that two officers would be permanently based in the International Police Coordination Centre at Lognes while six will be based in the host cities of Paris, Bordeaux and Lille.

A source said their presence was a reflection of the cooperation between Irish and French authorities, "particularly in the face of the continuing terrorist threat".

Separately, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has ordered the redeployment of five embassy staff to Paris as 75,000 Irish fans prepare to travel to support the Boys in Green. It has emerged that embassy personnel, gardai and the FAI took part in what was described as a "crisis-simulation exercise" earlier this month.

Hotline

The Government's plan will also see the establishment of a 24-hour hotline for Irish fans who find themselves in trouble or in need of assistance during the tournament.

Specialised consular and emergency response training has been delivered to embassy staff, while additional communications and IT equipment has been provided for consular use.

Mr Flanagan told the Herald the Government was conscious that France had been in a state of emergency since the terrorist atrocities last November.

"My advice to Irish citizens intending to travel to France is that they should exercise a high degree of caution," he said.

"In view of the large numbers of Irish fans expected to travel and the exceptional security situation in France, my Department has been developing and implementing a comprehensive action plan.

"This will ensure that the embassy of Ireland in Paris is supported in its capacity to deal with the likely increased con- sular demand over the course of the European Champion- ships.

"The department will launch a travel app next month that will be a source of information for Irish citizens abroad and also an important communications tool for the Government's consular response in the event of any emergency."

The dedicated Euro 2016 consular phone line will be open from June 10 on 00 33 1441 76780.

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