Ireland needs British-style Cobra response team to prepare for terror attacks, Irish Government is warned
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Ireland needs British-style Cobra response team to prepare for terror attacks, Irish Government is warned

IRELAND must have a national emergency plan like Britain to respond to a potential terror attack, the leader of the Irish Labour party has warned. 

Labour TD Brendan Howlin was speaking in the Dáil during Leader's Questions when he made the statement.

The party leader asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the role the Department of the Taoiseach would have in the event of a national emergency, and drew a comparison to the Prime Minister's Office in Britain.

The Taoiseach said that in the event of an emergency, the category of the emergency would decide which department would deal with it, for example, an infectious animal disease would be handled by the Department of Agriculture, and a nuclear accident would be managed by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

But the Labour leader countered that although there are experts in every department, they may not be equipped to deal with a large scale emergency and a Cobra response, like Britain, would be more appropriate.

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In an emergency, the British Government exercise Cobra, which is Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms A, where crisis response committee set up to co-ordinate the actions of bodies within the Government.

"We certainly do not have that skill set available in every single Department [to handle emergencies] and it seems unnecessary to have it available," he said.

"What is needed for a country of our size is one set of crisis managers who can take command under the auspices of the Taoiseach and regardless of whether it is an agricultural issue, a food issue or a nuclear issue, bring in whatever expertise is needed to assist in the management of that," he added.

"With regard to emergency planning, in the past we talked about what might constitute an emergency, such as a nuclear explosion at a British nuclear plant and how that would impact on us," Howlin said.

"Please God there will not be an explosion or mishap in a nuclear institution in Britain, but we have to plan for that.

"A much more likely attack is a possible terrorist attack. We would be foolish to think that we are immune from that in this jurisdiction."

"With regard to preparing for eventualities now in a completely changed environment in which even a football team on the way to a football match is not immune to attack, does the Taoiseach think we need to up our own game?" he asked.

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An Taoiseach said they he had already called an emergency meeting for today, April 13, as a result of the attack in Sweden and the incident with the Borussia Football team in Germany earlier this week.

But Mr Kenny also said An Garda Síochána are also monitoring members of the Irish public.

"Deputies will be aware of the vigilance of the Garda and the intelligence units in monitoring a small number of individuals who do not have this country's interests at heart," he said. "That is a very precise and confidential matter.

"These are things that we cannot be distant from," the Taoiseach added.

"We are a non-aligned, non-aggressive country, and though the threat is always present, it is not at a high level in Ireland and we try to keep it that way."