WATCH: Terrorist attack response is tested at Shannon Airport

David Hurley in Shannon Airport

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David Hurley in Shannon Airport

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david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

WATCH: Terrorist attack response is tested at Shannon Airport

Members of the Emergency Response Unit arriving at Shannon on board an Air Corps helicopter | PICTURE: Arthur Ellis

MORE than 130 gardai and members of the Defence Forces were deployed at Shannon Airport on Tuesday afternoon as a major terrorist incident was simulated in the departures hall.

The apparent attack by members of a ‘Doomsday Cult’ was part of a bilateral training exercise between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces which was hosted by Shannon Airport.

Similar events have taken place at a DART station in Dublin and at Drogheda Port in recent months.

The scenario which unfolded at Shannon shortly after 2.30pm saw a number of armed and masked men enter the arrivals hall and target people who were queuing at the checkout desks.

A number were injured and around eight were taken hostage with the terrorists then barricading themselves in an upstairs room at the airport

Following the arrival of local gardai and members of the armed Regional Support protracted negotiations took place between the terrorists and gardai.

As the exercise progressed, an army bomb disposal team was deployed in the car park to assess a suspect device in a parked car while members of the highly trained Emergency Response Unit, including a sniper, arrived by helicopter to provide assistance.

Once inside the terminal building, the ERU officers took control of the operation with members breaching the room using stun grenades as they entered.

There was an exchange of gunfire which resulted in a number of the hostage takers being killed.

Inspector Kieran Ruane, who oversaw the training exercise, says it was an important initiative.

“The skills that we demonstrated this afternoon are perishable skills so it’s very important that we reaffirm them and it was also an opportunity to test the inter-operability between An Garda Siochana and the Defence Foces and it certainly worked very well,” he said.

A full evaluation of the exercise will take place over the coming weeks with all of those who took part being asked for their views.

“The learning actually started a number of weeks ago with the planning process. Already those recommendations and that key learning has been noted. It’s not about focusing on people it’s about focusing on processes and making sure the processes are robust should a real life incident like this occur, he said.

Members of staff at Shannon Airport remained in a secure area of the arrivals hall as the exercise was conducted. No flights were affected and normal services resumed shortly after 4pm once the exercise had concluded.