Saturday 16 December 2017

'We need our own Cobra meetings', says Varadkar

Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Leo Varadkar wants to set up a high-powered "Cobra-style" Cabinet committee to prepare for the risk of a terror attack in Ireland, within 50 days of his taking office as Taoiseach.

Mr Varadkar, who is set to become the leader of the country in the next week-and-a-half, joined other Irish politicians in condemning Saturday night's van and knife atrocity in London.

"Once again innocent people have been targeted in the most craven and horrific manner," he said.

Mr Varadkar indicated that he intends to set up a new government committee that would be modelled on Britain's Cobra group.

It was convened by prime minister Theresa May yesterday in the wake of the horror in London.

Its name comes from Cabinet Office Briefing Room A (Cobra) in the British government buildings in Whitehall.

It meets to deal with major crises, such as terrorism.

"Although Ireland is not at high risk of a terrorist attack, it is important to be prepared for every eventuality," a spokesman for Mr Varadkar said.


He added that the new committee will "allow greater ministerial involvement in preparing for and managing major security threats" as well as "more extensive cross-departmental co-operation".

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said there is no direct evidence of a threat to Ireland, but told RTE that "we're by no means immune".

"Our threat level is currently moderate," he said, adding that an attack here is considered "unlikely".

President Michael D Higgins offered the "sympathy and support" of the Irish people to the London victims and their families.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny branded the attack as "cowardly" and "sheer madness".

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: "This was a callous attack on people who were simply enjoying life."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said the current terrorist threat level for Britain is classified as "severe", meaning the chances of a future attack remain highly likely.

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