Ireland's intelligence services evaluate Hezbollah presence

Iran-backed Hezbollah could be creating support networks in Ireland among left-wing republicans and people of Palestinian heritage, reports suggest

A demonstration in Dublin, where support for the Palestinian cause has been strong. PA
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Ireland’s intelligence services have shifted their priorities to focus on identifying extremist activity related to the Israeli-Gaza war, which may include the presence of Hezbollah and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operatives within the country.

There have been growing concerns the two groups are radicalising Muslims and creating support networks as the conflict unfolds in the Middle East, according to The Sunday Times. Sources told the newspaper that Hezbollah and the PFLP’s operation is focused on people of Palestinian heritage but also Irish citizens who support Palestinian independence.

The garda, the Irish police force, is investigating the transfer of cash to charities and groups in the Middle East, which they suspect might be destined for terrorist organisations in the region.

“What is happening to the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the West Bank may inspire support for terrorism or encourage religiously inspired acts of terror,” a security source said. "Ireland, like other countries, is trying to ascertain the nature of the threat, which is evolving fast.

The garda has in recent years been focusing on countering republican dissidents and the far right but new security threats highlighted by the Israeli-Gaza war have forced police to change their priorities.

Left-wing republican groups are organising almost daily protests in support of Palestinians across the country and in Northern Ireland. The republican movement has long supported the Palestinian cause and the New IRA and its political representatives have sent delegations to meet Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

The security services have not established whether Hamas figures operate in Ireland but they believe Iran’s intelligence services are active in the state, potentially stoking anti-Israel protests, The Sunday Times reported. Iranian operators have been identified at demonstrations in Britain and France, and are believed to be using the current conflict to increase community tensions.

The move by the garda is part of a wider effort by intelligence services across Europe to assess national security risks posed by the war, which has left thousands of Palestinians and Israelis dead.

Updated: October 29, 2023, 2:48 PM