Although no incidents of the type specified by the Deputy have been recorded by the Garda authorities to date, I am acutely aware that the problem of trafficking in human beings, including children, by gangster type syndicates has become a major problem internationally and a significant facet of transnational organised crime.
In so far as arrival at points of entry to the State are concerned, the position is that all persons must be in a position to satisfy an immigration officer of their identity and nationality and, where an immigration officer believes that an adult travelling with a minor may not be the parent or legal guardian of that child, then further inquiries will be made. In addition, there are specific procedures established under the Refugee Act, 1996, which was commenced in full by me on 20 November 2000, and which take account of situations where an unaccompanied minor arrives in the State. In such a case an immigration officer is now required to inform the relevant health board and thereupon the provisions of the Childcare Act, 1991, apply in respect of the child in question. These controls are an important element in the overall efforts of the Garda Síochána to prevent and combat trafficking.