Galway part of Garda review of national security

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley

An Garda Síochána’s Crime and Security Branch is carrying out a terrorism risk assessment of Galway as part of a nationwide review of national security.

The matter was raised at a meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) by Sinn Féin councillor Mark Lohan – who had previously questioned the Gardaí’s readiness to deal with a terror threat at a JPC meeting last June.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that his Detective Inspector has been in contact with the Crime and Security Branch at Garda HQ – which handles national security and counter-terrorism – and a nationwide plan is being drawn up.

“It’s not a generic plan, but we’re looking at every town, looking at the dangers and the layouts of towns, and we are in the process of drawing up a plan.

“Every one of our plans since the danger has been heightened and escalated, we included a risk assessment, whether it be Pearse Stadium or the Galway Races and we work very closely with our Health and Safety supervisor for the region.

“Even when we’re policing the city at the weekends, it is something all our members are aware of.”

He said there is extra cover from the armed Regional Support Unit.

Cllr Lohan said there is also an onus on the authorities to ensure no section of society is demonised, and asked what language skills are in place for An Garda Síochána to reach out to ethnic minorities.

He pointed to a Census 2016 report which shows that Galway is the most diverse city in Ireland, with around one in every five people being non-Irish nationals.

“Do the Gardaí as a local force have the ability to communicate with everyone in Polish, Lithuanian, Arabic, Russian, whatever is needed, and if that’s not in place, are there plans to recruit from those communities?

Chief Supt Curley said there are 20 Ethnic Liaison Officers in the Galway Garda Division who deal with minority groups in the city and there are members from various countries.

“If we need somebody to go along and interpret, not only do we have it within the job, we also have a contract with an outside agency and we can avail of that service 24/7. That’s not an issue,” he said.