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Be prepared

'Terror threats change, so must we' - minister says Cobra committee will aid in preparation for attack

Varadkar is expected to be ratified as Ireland’s new Taoiseach by Dáil vote next week.

90407875_90407875 Sam Boal Sam Boal

FINE GAEL’S NEW leader Leo Varadkar is set to meet with his main opposition leader Micheál Martin later today as his campaign to become Taoiseach gathers pace.

Meetings with independent ministers Katherine Zappone and Denis Naughten are also scheduled to take place.

Varadkar is expected to be ratified as the country’s new leader by Dail vote next week.

His tenure however begins in the light of a series of terror attacks in the UK, the most recent of which has seen two arrests made in Ireland in connection with London attacker Rachid Redouane, who had lived here for some time up until the end of last year.

Varadkar has expressed a preference for the creation of an Irish version of the UK’s COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) committee, which sees the meeting of many ministers (together with senior civil servants and intelligence chiefs) in response to national emergencies – the idea being to effectively respond to a crisis and coordinate government response as quickly as possible.

The option of such a committee was previously discussed in the Dáil in April of this year, and was in fact first mooted on that occasion by Labour leader Brendan Howlin, who argued it is “appropriate that we would have our own prime ministerial command centre to deal with any emergency that might arise”.

LEO WINS 758A0974_90513978 Leo Varadkar Eamonn Farrell Eamonn Farrell

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Education Minister Richard Bruton said of the possibility of creating such a committee: “the reality is threats change and we have to change with them.”

“Leo Varadkar has outlined his ambition for a Cobra-type committee which will give greater political input into this preparation. A lot of senior ministers would sit on that and listen to the security briefing and respond right across the various cabinet briefs to make sure we prepare well,” he said.

I know the Tánaiste has sat down with the Garda Commissioner and is always reviewing resources. She invested €55 million last year in the gardaí. We are now investing more resources in the gardaí.

Asked as to the Garda Representative Association’s (GRA) assertion that Ireland isn’t ready to deal with a similar terror attack to that experienced in Britain, Bruton insisted that “there are different views on this”.

“We are well prepared is the view set out by the inspectors (the GRA representing rank-and-file gardaí). Threats are changing, there are now more random attacks, and we have to respond to the changing nature of those threats,” he said.

Thankfully the threats are rated at moderate here.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from events, we still need to monitor how we prepare. We have very good international intelligence networks, we have put resources in place to respond to these threats, and we are very intelligent.”

Read: Man arrested over London attack as police search house

Read: Male drivers rack up penalty points twice as often as women over a decade

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