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26th Aug 2018

Defence Forces respond to claims that members camped in poor conditions to work during Papal Visit

Dave Hanratty

Irish Defence Forces statement Phoenix Park Papal Visit

“Some of the patrolled areas were unfortunately left in unsanitary conditions prior to the operation and were treated with due caution.”

The Irish Defence Forces were among those called into action this weekend to help assist the Papal Visit.

As a result, they found themselves sleeping outside in difficult conditions in the Phoenix Park ahead of the event.

The area they were seemingly forced to camp was covered in used syringes and needles as rain lashed down through the night.

A spokesperson for the Irish Defence Forces issued the following statement explaining the situation to JOE on Sunday evening:

“Since Friday, over 3,000 Defence Forces personnel were deployed in support of An Garda Síochána in securing the Phoenix Park, Ireland West Airport and the Marian Shrine in Knock for the duration of His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland.

“The duties of these personnel included support to An Garda Síochána in an aid to the Civil Power role by the provision of security and support in the lead-up to the visit and during the visit.

“On foot of a request for assistance from An Garda Síochána, Defence Forces personnel were tasked with securing the perimeter of the Phoenix Park from 6am on Saturday as part of the broader security operation surrounding the Papal visit.

“This perimeter was necessary to maintain the security of the area after a search was conducted by Defence Forces Engineer Specialist Search Teams until the conclusion of the ceremonies.

“This was designed to guarantee the safety of all pilgrims and VIPs to the highest degree of assurance possible and was enforced by regular patrols.

“A number of tents were available as rest areas throughout the operation and troops also set up their own rest areas by bivouacking in their specific areas of responsibility in order to rest between patrols.

“This is standard practice and some of these patrolled areas were unfortunately left in unsanitary conditions prior to the operation and were treated with due caution.

“For meals, troops were rotated through McKee Barracks and provided with supplementary rations for use.

“As well as securing the perimeter, the Defence Forces provided assistance to the Gardaí in a support role by assisting with the movement of patrons, assisting patrons with directions and assisting Gardaí in the event of an emergency.”