Thursday 27 October 2016

ISIS threat in Ireland is a 'matter of great concern' says Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

ISIS fighter
ISIS fighter

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has described the possible infiltration of ISIS terrorists into Ireland as "a matter of great concern".

The senior Fine Gael politician made the comments yesterday, a week after gardai arrested a suspected IS extremist in Dublin and questioned him about using a false passport in an attempt to get into Turkey some days earlier.

Speaking on RTE's News At One about the issue, Mr Flanagan said: "This is a matter of great concern. Both the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and I keep in very close contact on this issue.

"I believe it's important that we have an appropriate programme of intelligence-gathering right throughout the European Union.

"That's why I'm fully supportive of the exchange of information regarding passengers on air flights.

"I would again encourage all EU states and in particular European parliamentarians to adopt appropriate protocols because I believe we need to ensure safety for our citizens, for people in the European Union and that will involve in the first instance intelligence and an appropriate sharing of information across a range of levels."

Mr Flanagan added that the Department of Foreign Affairs would like to be able to advise people to travel again to Tunisia after three Irish tourists were murdered there last month, but the advice remains that people should only go for essential reasons.

"We are constantly keeping our security advice under review. Arising from the security situation, our travel advice will be reviewed and updated in accordance with the situation on the ground in Tunisia," he explained.

The suspected ISIS extremist who was arrested in Dublin on Monday of last week is not an Irish national but has been living in the capital for a number of years.

The man, who is aged in his 30s, is originally from an Eastern European country and was sent back to Ireland from Turkey three days before his arrest when "irregularities" were observed on the passport he used at the airport in Istanbul.

Sources say that he is likely to be charged with offences not directly linked to terrorism after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) reviews a file on the matter currently being prepared by gardai.

The passport, which is from an Eastern European country that is a member of the EU, has now been seized by gardai.

Last week's arrest is not the first time this year that a suspected jihadi has been arrested in Ireland.

Last January, a French-Algerian national and suspected extremist was arrested at Dublin Airport as he attempted to enter the country after arriving on an international flight. It is believed that suspect was travelling on a false French passport.

The suspect arrested last week had been under surveillance after he was deported back here before a decision was made to arrest him.

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