'Concern' at terror attacks on Limerick's top sporting venues

Former Roxboro Road detective calls for 'homeland security' style operations

Nick Rabbitts and Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts and Aine Fitzgerald

'Concern' at terror attacks on Limerick's top sporting venues

Sean Lynch says there is “concern” sporting events at the Gaelic Grounds and Thomond Park

FORMER Limerick detective garda Sean Lynch says there is “concern” that sporting events at the Gaelic Grounds and Thomond Park could be targeted by terrorists.

In a week where members of the Armed Support Unit carried out searches on spectators attending Limerick’s under-25 final at Thurles’ Semple Stadium, Cllr Lynch said it is important to be vigilant locally.

And the man expected to take up the role of metropolitan mayor this Friday has called for “homeland security” style operations locally.

“We are the local authority. We have An Garda Siochana, we have our business people. I think we need to come together, and have a summit to bring experts from abroad. The more eyes and ears we have looking and observing, the better for the authorities. It’s something we need to look at in a serious light,” he told the Limerick Leader.

Cllr Lynch said an attack on Limerick’s premier sporting venues – which have capacities of 50,000 and 26,000 respectively – is something the public must be cognisant of.

“I don’t wish to spread fear, but it’s a concern, and it’s something the public needs to understand: that at venues like these, we need to be prepared just in case. This is the now, this is a new level, and we have to be seen that we are not going to tolerate this, and we condemn all acts of terror. That’s the message we need,” he said.

Cllr Lynch – who was attached to Roxboro Garda Station – does not believe members of the force are trained well enough in the event of a terror attack.

“If we are serious about tackling this, it needs to be part of the training at Templemore. We need to bring members right up to speed,” he said.

The councillor asked a question at this week’s metropolitan meeting, focusing on whether the council has any plan to deal with terrorism in Limerick.

He was told a framework for major emergency management allows the gardai, the HSE and local authorities to prepare for and make a co-ordinated response.

“An Garda Siochana is the lead agency in responding to a terrorist-type incident and is responsible for leading the co-ordination between the principal response agencies,” Philippa King, director of service said.

Last Sunday, ahead of Limerick’s game against Waterford, a Leader reporter covering the game had his laptop case searched by stewards on entering the stadium along with many spectators.

This Tuesday, Croke Park confirmed that spectators will not be able to take large bags and backpacks into the stadium. Ed Donnelly, Munster GAA communications officer confirmed “as a result what’s happening internationally and in Britain in particular in recent times we have been working closely with the gardai.”

“Given our games have high attendances that’s why you are seeing the additional measures. All of this is in consultation with gardai who are taking the lead on this and we then follow through in terms of checks and additional  support that needs to be there in terms of entry and exit,” he said.