Nick Royle (Times Ireland)
Cricket Ireland has engaged a security company that specialises in counter-terrorism measures for their upcoming matches against England, West Indies and Bangladesh in Dublin.
Irish cricket’s governing body also acknowledges that the murder of Lyra McKee, the 29-year old journalist shot dead during rioting in Derry last month, could make some teams nervous of visiting.
Eastern Star International will be paid a “five-figure sum” to protect Friday’s one-day international against England at Malahide, and the Tri-Series against West Indies and Bangladesh, which takes place between May 5 and 17 at Malahide and Clontarf.
The company is run by Reg Dickason, the former Queensland policeman who has advised the England and Wales Cricket Board on security matters for more than a decade.
Dickason created the security blueprint that persuaded the England team to resume their tour to India after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, and also oversaw the security arrangements for England’s tour to Bangladesh after incidents in Dhaka in which 29 people died in 2016.
Cricket Ireland made the decision to beef up security for home internationals after the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the political tensions around Ireland’s series against Afghanistan, which took place in Dehradun, India in February and March.
Seventeen members of the Bangladesh squad were on their team bus outside Christchurch’s Al-Noor mosque, a short walk from the city’s Hagley Oval, when terrorists struck on March 15.
“It was quite difficult for our players in India, with raised tensions in the country over the Kashmir border and the downing of the Indian pilot on Pakistan territory,” Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said.
“We then had the awful events in New Zealand, a country previously regarded as ‘safe’, and of course we have just had the equally awful events in Sri Lanka.
“I don’t think we can bury our heads in the sand and assume everything will be fine, that we are low-risk and nothing will happen to us.”
Deutrom accepts some international teams could be reluctant to visit Ireland after the New IRA’s murder of Ms McKee on 18 April.
“People overseas who see headlines of bombs or violence in Ireland, it doesn’t matter what part of the country it is,” Deutrom continued.
“It makes people nervous. It’s like when our players were in Dehradun, and their families were getting nervous at the escalation of tensions.
“[The murder of Ms McKee] came after we put our original plans in place, but it also confirmed our belief that we needed our own global security experts in place.”