Tuesday 21 January 2020

London attack: 'no room for complacency here, says Howlin

Brendan Howlin canvassing for Labour with MP Tulip Siddiq in London last week.
Brendan Howlin canvassing for Labour with MP Tulip Siddiq in London last week.
Deputy Brendan Howlin with British General Election candidate Tulip Siddiq and local canvassers in Kilburn.

By Maria pepper

labour Party leader Brendan Howlin who was canvassing on the streets of London shortly before last Saturday night's terror attack, said people would be 'very naive' in thinking that Ireland is immune from similar horrific acts.

Deputy Howlin was in the English capital last Thursday and Friday meeting with British Labour Party officials and canvassing votes in the General Election for outgoing Hamstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq and Twickenham candidate Dr. Katherine Dunne.

'In the evening, we were sitting outdoors at a restaurant in Covent Garden having a meal, exactly like many of those who were out in the Borough Market on Saturday night,' he said.

'I was home less than 24 hours when I saw reports about the London Bridge attack on the news. I had been at the Shard the day before, close to where the attack occurred so it was very real.'

'I thought about all the people I met and whether they were caught up in it. I was thinking how random it is, that I was there the day before, sitting at a restaurant and it could have happened then.'

'The last thing anyone would imagine while they are sitting in a restaurant or pub is that some madman with a knife is going to come up and stab you. Having been there so recently, it certainly brought it home to me in a very real way.'

'It's the random nature of it that's so difficult. It's very hard to defend yourself against people using knives and vans in random attacks.'

As police revealed that one of the three men involved in Saturday's night horror incident was in possession of an Irish identity card and lived in Ireland for a time, Deputy Howlin cautioned that there is no room for complacency regarding the possibility of Isis- related terrorist attacks happening here.

'We would be very naive to think that Ireland is immune from all of this', said the Labour Party leader who has asked the Dail to consider establishing 'our own beefed-up, bespoke security service, bringing together gardai intelligence, military intelligence and cyber security.'

'What is needed is real intelligence in relation to what is going on in communities. We have been successful in this country in integrating communities. We don't have racial tension. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that this continues.'

'These are fanatics whose very objective is to create terror. They are picking soft targets and as Britain and other places become more robust in combatting them, they will be looking for other soft targets and we have to be ready for that,' he said.

The Labour TD condemned last weekend's London Bridge and Borough Market attacks as 'mindlessly cruel' and praised the spirit of the people of London in how they responded to it.

'As members of the emergency services ran towards danger and the people of London opened their homes, cars and businesses to provide support to those affect, the strength and resilience of the city of London was shown to all,' he said.

Wexford People

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