Ireland Is at Risk of Nuclear Attack, Claims Taoiseach; AHERN WARNS CUSTOMS TO BE ALERT AS HE REVEALS FEARS BIN LADEN MAY STRIKE
Byline: RONALD QUINLAN
TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has sent out his clearest message yet that he believes Ireland faces the threat of a nuclear attack from terrorists linked to Al Qaeda.
Mr Ahern spelled out his fears last week as he welcomed the arrival of a specialist truck container scanner at Dublin Port, which will be used primarily to detect drugs and contraband by Revenue Commissioners' Customs and Excise division.
Towards the end of his speech, however, the Taoiseach acknowledged the scanner's arguably more important purpose - the detection of nuclear materials for use by terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.
He told guests: 'On a broader note, I am also delighted that the new scanner has also the facility to detect radioactive and nuclear materials.
It goes without saying that since 9/11, security has been a priority throughout the world.
'All agencies, including Customs, have a role to play in protecting the country from terrorism.' The Taoiseach went further saying: 'Clearly maritime freight is vulnerable to the smuggling of nuclear devices or radioactive materials by terrorists.
'Ireland's overall security can only be enhanced and strengthened by the deployment of this high-tech equipment.' Mr Ahern made no reference to the United States' use of Shannon Airport for the transit of its troops to and from Iraq, or to the CIA's alleged use of the airport for the transit of 'extraordinary rendition' flights.
However, Opposition politicians seized on the Taoiseach's statement last night as proof the Government acknowledged that Ireland was now seen as a legitimate target.
Green Party spokesman on Foreign affairs John Gormley TD, who said he had not been aware of the Taoiseach's comments, added that he was right to be fearful. …