Smith: Society cannot tolerate terrorism in any shape or form

Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has said society cannot tolerate terrorism in any shape of form as he condemned the “despicable” shooting of an off-duty PSNI officer in Omagh.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD made the comments after the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell on Wednesday. Police have blamed dissident republican group the new IRA for the attack.

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday Mr Smith said: “The despicable shooting in Omagh reminds us starkly of that awful era in our country when so many innocent people lost their lives and so many were seriously injured.

“This horrific incident strongly reinforces the message that the Government must always ensure every necessary resource is provided to An Garda Síochána and all other relevant statutory agencies to rid our society of this small number of criminals and thugs who shamelessly masquerade as so-called republicans.  

“It is also essential we continue to have the best possible cross-border collaboration in policing and security issues.”

Deputy Smith also said An Garda Siochana needs to have the ability to apprehend terrorists who may come in to its jurisdiction.  

“There are unique policing demands in border regions,” he said. “Garda authorities at national level in allocating resources must be mindful of those additional demands on our Garda personnel. I sincerely hope the PSNI does the same in Northern Ireland.”  

“The political vacuum in Northern Ireland serves the interest of nobody and it is to be hoped we will have progress quickly in that respect.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin, in response, said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Deputy Smith “who has a long-standing commitment to peace on the island”.  

“In his work as a public representative over many years he has been a significant contributor to peace on the island, particularly in the Border region, so I know his comments are heartfelt,” Mr Martin added.  

The Tánaiste told the Dáil he was “shocked at the callous and depraved manner” of the attack on Wednesday, which he said “injures society as a whole within Northern Ireland and on this island”.  

He described Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell as “highly respected” among his peers and among the Garda for his “extraordinary work in detecting many serious crimes”.  

“He is a very significant person in his own right, in policing terms and in terms of community support as well. That idea of ensuring the proper resources and proper co-operation, which is at a high level between the PSNI and the Garda, is without question,” he added.