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Armed Garda support units to monitor Ireland's major cities from tonight

A decision was made to ramp up high-visibility security in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Kilkenny in the wake of the London attack.

SPECIALIST ARMED GARDA units have been directed to beef up security in several Irish cities from this evening, TheJournal.ie has learned.

Members of the Garda Armed Support Unit (ASU) have been dispatched to the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Kilkenny, beginning their duties at 7pm this evening.

While the threat of a terrorist attack in Ireland is currently deemed to be possible but unlikely, the directive comes as a proactive and preventative measure in the wake of the past fortnight’s attacks on Manchester and London.

The ASU was unveiled late last year by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald as a high-profile specialist unit, equipped with firearms and other weapons and with members trained as emergency first-responders. Its initial focus was on high-visibility patrolling of areas of Dublin which have been vulnerable to a spate of gangland murders.

90436478_90436478 The new Armed Support Unit, established in December last year. Source: RollingNews.ie

A new departure

Today’s directive marks a departure for the ASU by sending members of its 55-strong force to other cities around the country. It is believed by TheJournal.ie that the ASU will be making its presence clear where intelligence has indicated potential threats to national security.

The ASU was formed from applicants from within An Garda Síochána and members were given 12 weeks of tactical, weapons and response training. They are separate to the premier tactical armed unit, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), which intervenes in high-risk events from hostage situations to firearms incidents, but both units have undergone training together.

The threat of a terrorist attack in Ireland is deemed ‘moderate’, but it is understood that senior Gardai have been consulting with international colleagues on measures to reduce the impact of an assault on the public.

27/10/2016. Garda Terrorist Exercise Drogheda. Sce An exercise involving the Armed Support Unit (ARU) who carry high-powered weapons. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Committee on national security

The new Fine Gael leader, and likely Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has indicated that he intends to establish a cabinet level committee on national security similar to the COBRA committee in the UK within the first 50 days of Government.

The UK’s COBRA committee deals with major crises such as terrorism.

Seven people were killed in the horrific attack on pedestrians at London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday night, and 21 of the 48 injured have been described as being in a critical condition. A suicide bomber killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena just two weeks previously, injuring over 100 more, many of them young teenagers and children. In March, another attack in Westminster, London, left five people dead and injured almost 50.

Read: Tom Clonan: We need to talk about how unprepared we are for a terrorist attack>

Read: Charlie Flanagan says attack in Ireland is ‘unlikely’ and gardaí are ‘fully in control of situation’

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