Police from both parts of Ireland are to be deployed to France to support authorities there during the Euro 2016 football final following terrorist attacks in Paris last year.
Both the Republic and Northern Ireland teams are competing, and delegations from the two police forces will provide back-up for French police for the duration of the teams’ involvement in the tournament which begins on June 10.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is sending eight officers. It’s understood the Gardai will also send a delegation to the games, although the scale of their operation has not yet been confirmed.
The French government said it plans to extend a state of emergency imposed after the Paris attacks in November to cover the tournament. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that, given the scale of the event, security has to be ensured.
Security is expected to be tightest at a game in Bordeaux where the Republic of Ireland play Belgium, because of Brussels’ links to the November attacks.
Fans from both parts of Ireland are gearing up for a mass exodus with thousands of match tickets sold. But one leading Irish pundit will not be travelling.
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RTE soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy has said he wouldn’t feel safe going to the championships. With the tournament less than a month away, Dunphy, a former international soccer star, believes the event “is an obvious target” for terrorists after the attacks in Paris.
“It’s the world we live now, with the likes of ISIS or ISIL as they are so called stating explicitly that the Euros are a target,” he said.
“It does cast a shadow over the European Championships. They did strike at the Stade de France during the France-Germany friendly. There were three suicide bombers there.”
The 70-year-old said he was in France last weekend and people there were still affected by what happened in Paris.
“When you look at the opportunities these terrorists have during the Euros this summer, I would be very surprised if they don’t attempt some atrocity.”