European Directives: Motion

I move:

That Seanad Éireann approves the exercise by the State of the option or discretion under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to take part in the adoption and application of the following proposed measure:

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of Passenger Name Record data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime,

a copy of which was laid before Seanad Éireann on 3 March 2011.

The motion before the House proposes that Ireland should exercise the option, set out in Article 3 of Protocol 21 to the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, to participate in the adoption and application of an EU directive of the European Parliament and the Council on the use of certain air travel reservation data — passenger name record, PNR, data — in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. I firmly believe that Ireland should opt in to this proposal. Any measure that can give the Garda Síochána and its EU counterparts an advantage in the fight against terrorism and other serious criminal activities is to be welcomed and deserves support. We must recognise that the ever increasing openness of our borders cannot be allowed to work to the benefit of terrorists and criminal gangs. We must make use of the opportunities that information sharing presents for our police to maximise the security of EU citizens.

This measure is among a number being taken at EU level arising from commitments set out in the 2009 Stockholm programme. The Government is determined that Ireland will have a full, active and constructive engagement in bringing forward the European justice agenda. This proposal replaces an earlier one that was not finalised before the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty arrangements. The current proposal is made under those new arrangements, which involve the European Parliament as co-legislator. There is general support among the member states for this proposal and Ireland has indicated support in principle for the measure.

The directive proposes that passenger name record data concerning flights in and out of the EU will be available to national authorities for combating terrorism and serious crime. Passenger name record data are information relating to passengers' reservations that is collected and held by air carriers. The directive will require the airlines to provide a portion of this information for the relevant member state's law enforcement authorities. Passenger name record data are already provided by airlines on flights between the EU and the United States, Canada and Australia, including flights from Ireland. It hardly seems credible that EU member states would provide this information for third countries but neglect to avail of the advantages it will afford us in tackling terrorism and serious crime. The UK, Swedish and Spanish authorities have been routinely collecting passenger name record data for some years now and it has proved to be a very valuable tool in a range of investigations targeting drug smugglers, human trafficking rings and terrorists.

I will give the House some practical examples of how passenger name record can be used by law enforcement authorities. In the first example, passenger name record data were used by the UK authorities in the case of Mr. David Headley, the terrorist facilitator convicted of involvement in the atrocious terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. Let us not forget that 164 innocent people lost their lives in that attack. By using details of the suspect's first name, his partial travel itinerary and a vague travel window, and entering this intelligence into the passenger name record database, Mr. David Headley's full name, address and passport number was obtained and he was arrested. He subsequently pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges.

Passenger name record data have also been used in a number of significant transnational organised crime cases. The UK authorities targeted and successfully prosecuted a Chinese criminal gang of human traffickers bringing illegal immigrants to the UK and Ireland, through other EU member states. Without the use of passenger name record the investigation would have taken substantially longer to identify the passengers and link them to the trafficking facilitators.

It is clear that there are tangible results that can be achieved by the use of passenger name record data. However, access to this data under the proposed directive is not unrestricted or unencumbered. Under this proposed directive the use of passenger name record data is restricted by a clear purpose limitation. The data collected and processed may only be used for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. The offences involved are those already established in European and national law under the framework decisions on combating terrorism and on the European arrest warrant. The offences in question include terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, the sexual exploitation of children, and serious offences such as murder and rape.

The directive will require airlines operating flights into and out of the EU, which are departing from or arriving in Ireland, to send the specified passenger name record data from their reservations system to the Irish authority tasked with their analysis. Airlines operating international flights departing from or arriving in other EU member states will be obliged to transfer passenger name record data to the relevant authorities of those member states. The current draft proposal is limited to flights between the EU and third countries. However, there is significant support to include flights between EU member states in the scope of the directive. This is a matter that will be considered as the discussions on the directive proceed.

I discussed the proposal with my EU colleagues at last week's meeting of justice and home affairs Ministers in Luxembourg. I made clear Ireland's general support for the measure as an important potential tool for countering the activities of organised criminals and terrorists, and for improving security in the EU. I also indicated Ireland's support for the inclusion of intra-EU flights in the scope of the measure, an approach that was supported by the majority of other member states around the table. The exact form in which internal EU flights may be included will have to be worked out in the course of the negotiations in the coming months.

Airlines will be obliged to transfer the specified passenger name record data held in their reservation systems to the authorities of the relevant EU member state. Under the current proposal there are 19 fields of information which may be transferred, including the name, address and contact information of passengers, travel itineraries and payment methods. It also includes information on the travel agent, seat number, airline code share information and baggage information.

For the most part, these data are already collected by the airlines and the proposal does not oblige them to collect any additional data. The extent of any costs falling to airlines in providing the data will vary depending on the size and scope of their operations. However, these costs are justified by the value to national and European security achieved by participating in such a measure.

Each member state will be obliged to establish a national unit to receive and process the data provided by airlines under the proposed scheme. The European Commission has indicated that EU funding is to be made available for some of the start-up costs for member states. Once established, member states will have the right to request the passenger name record data and, if necessary, the results of the processing of such data, from other member states. This is an obvious aspect of the form of EU co-operation between member states. Sharing of findings is essential to ensure that EU boundaries are not a barrier to effective action against terrorists or criminal groups. Such requests and sharing of information will be subject to strict data protection measures, which are always a matter requiring particular attention with regard to information-sharing measures such as this.

This measure is an important tool in the fight against terrorism and serious crime and I have cited several examples. However, we must always be careful to ensure that the rights of citizens are not subjected to unnecessary or disproportionate intrusion. It is essential to strike the appropriate balance, especially with regard to the protection of personal data.

The passenger name record data will be used in several ways to enhance security and prevent or detect crime. It may be used reactively following the commission of a crime to assist with investigations. However, it may also be used proactively for the purposes of trend analysis and creating assessment criteria to identify potential threats. The data may also be analysed in real time to prevent the commission of terrorist or criminal offences. The period for which the data can be retained under the directive is accordingly strictly circumscribed. In contrast to the 2007 proposal in this area, this proposal sets out much shorter data retention periods. The directive provides that data will be stored for an initial 30 day active period. Thereafter, it will be anonymised and retained in an inactive database for a further five year period. During this five year period, the data will only be accessible by a limited number of personnel in the national unit and for a specified purpose.

Under Article 3 of Protocol 21 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Ireland has three months from the date a proposal is presented to the Council to decide whether to opt in to the adoption and application of the proposal. The prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with Article 29.4.7° of the Constitution is required to enable the Government to exercise that option. The deadline for opting in is 10 May 2011. Yesterday the Dáil voted in favour of opting in.

Given the potential value to law enforcement services of passenger name record data, particularly with regard to investigations into drug smuggling, human trafficking or international terrorism, given the important sensitive issues of the protection of personal data and given that the proposal will have some implications for the aviation industry, I am convinced that it is essential that Ireland should opt in to the negotiations to participate fully in those negotiations and to be in a position to seek to influence the outcome. I have no doubt the majority of Members in the Seanad share this view and I commend the motion to the House.

I welcome the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to the House. He has been in the Seanad more often than any other Minister. I also welcome the departmental officials who have scrutinised the directive. They, with our ambassador, represent the views of the Department in the European Union.

The proposal for the passenger name record, PNR, directive is the result of much consultation and communication between the European Commission and the European Council through the Justice and Home Affairs Committee. Thereafter the European Parliament contributed to the policy in the shape of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. Opinions were also submitted from the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and Transport and Tourism Committee.

At a national level, the directive has been considered most carefully by 14 member states through their parliamentary scrutiny procedures. Countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Poland have in some shape or form thoroughly examined the terms of the directive. At this juncture it is important to note that many countries have also chosen not to examine the issue, and in certain cases scrutiny is in progress.

The Joint Committee on European Scrutiny, of which I was a member together with Senator Burke, the then Senator Alan Kelly and the late Senator Kieran Phelan, studied the 2007 Council framework. I am aware that the 2007 framework proposal, which had not been adopted by the Council, became obsolete on the introduction of the 2009 treaty on the functioning of the European Union. The framework document takes into account the views expressed by the member states in Council discussions on the draft framework decision as well as the recommendations of the European Parliament as stated in its resolution of 20 November 2008 and the opinion of the European data protection supervisor.

The Joint Committee on European Scrutiny report, dated 13 November 2008, feeds into this very process. The work of the committee under its Chairman, the now Minister of State, Deputy John Perry, was very comprehensive. It is, I believe, a highly accessible and comprehensive analysis of central issues of the directive, and is an example of the good work of the two Houses in the context of our role in the European Union. I will refer to the report throughout my contribution.

I wish to make a number of observations on the directive. The journey the proposal has taken has been transparent and reassuring. It is interesting to recall that at the impact assessment stage of the proposal, the option was available to broaden the PNR framework to include not only "the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime" - but also the addendum of "other policy objectives". I am glad to see this was discounted as in my mind it would be vague, open to future interpretation and disproportionate.

As national parliamentarians and advocates of the European Union, we are charged with communicating fairly and effectively the complexities and nuances of our membership. The Irish Times today reports a Sinn Féin Deputy as stating in yesterday’s Dáil debate on the matter that the PNR procedure “would mean passengers would be subjected to extensive tracking, tracing and screening procedures”. This is always a danger and I know that, as someone who advocates human rights, the Minister will be very careful in this regard. The Deputy was right to bring these issues to the attention of the Minister in the other House.

It is made explicit that the assessment criteria to be employed by the national authorities in respect of the passenger name record shall in no circumstances be based on a person's race or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical belief, political opinion, trade union membership, health or sexual life. I know the Minister is very conscious of this and that the Department is very aware of it. Put simply, the PNR directive relates to information on passengers as they interact with at least one European member state and a third country. There has been discussion on broadening this matter to include internal flights of the European Union. The Joint Committee on European Scrutiny commented as to how this might contribute to the perception of a European surveillance society, where private space is increasingly restricted. I would welcome a detailed consideration as to how the proposed internal aspect of this would be put in place.

When considering the PNR issue, the joint committee held an exchange of views with the then Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Data Protection Commissioner. It also invited views from Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Aer Arann. In his detailed submission to the joint committee, the Data Protection Commissioner indicated there is a delicate balance to be struck with regard to reasonable and proportionate measures to counter violence perpetuated against innocent people, but he further suggested that such measures should represent a proper balance between the need to combat such illegality and the rights of the innocent majority to go about their daily lives without any undue interference by the state. Based on his submission, the committee did not believe that the principle of proportionality was satisfied. I would welcome clarification from the Data Protection Commissioner on this position having regard to the directive before the House. I would welcome clarification on the Communitydefinition of "serious crime" and a Communityinterpretation of the term "terrorism", lest there be a technical difference to its natural meaning.

I look forward to considering the directive when it is finalised and to contributing to its implementation through the House in the coming years if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected. As someone who uses airports, I find the principle is to protect passengers from terrorism and that is what the directive is about. Those who go about their work in an honest and law-abiding way have nothing to fear from the directive. It is an inconvenience to take off one's shoes or belt in an airport, but these measures are for one's protection and the protection of other passengers. People must bear it in mind and arrive earlier at airports to ensure they comply with security requirements. We have seen attempts to put bombs in watches and shoes. Terrorists will use every effort to promote their views and very attractive publicity is attached to attacks on aeroplanes.

I am concerned about air safety control the United States where it seems people sleep on the job and place the President's wife in jeopardy, but this is not the Minister's responsibility. In Ireland we have a high standard of air traffic controller but it seems to be getting lax in the United States. The Government should consider interaction and co-operation between air traffic controllers.

I support the motion and commend it to the House. The Minister has set out in some detail the basis for the EU directive and it falls into the category of co-operation between member states in policing and judicial co-operation in criminal law matters. It has been found for some time in the situation of free movement of people in the European Union that member states on their own cannot counteract terrorism and serious crime. It falls into the category of activities that are best done at European level.

The purpose of the directive is to harmonise the provisions of member states on obligations for air carriers operating flights between a third country and a member state and to transmit the PNR data to the competent authorities for the purposes of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences. It should also be acknowledged that it deals with serious crime. It is not only to do with terrorist offences, although the main focus is on terrorism, particularly those associated with the terrorism attack on airlines.

The Commission's proposal highlights three attempted terrorist attacks to show where this type of information can be of great assistance in detecting and preventing this type of attack. These are terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, aborted terrorist attacks in August 2006 aimed at blowing up a number of aircraft on their way from the United Kingdom to the United States, and the attempted terrorist attack on board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in December 2009.

The Commission's proposal set out very clearly, as has the Minister, how this type of data can be used in a reactive sense such as in an investigation, prosecutions and the unravelling of networks after a crime has been committed, and in real time to watch or arrest persons to prevent a crime before it has been committed and prior to the arrival or departure of passengers. The other is proactive use of data for analysis and creation of assessment criteria which can then be used for assessing passengers prior to arrival and departure. This proposal replaces a previous directive which fell with the passing of the Lisbon treaty and is based on the new provisions of that treaty. It is consistent with the principle of creating an area of freedom, security and justice within the European Union.

There has been widespread consultation on the proposals and it is fair to say the views and reservations expressed by bodies such as the European Parliament, the European Data Protection Supervisor and fundamental rights agencies are not entirely consistent or supportive of the proposal in its present form. The Commission has attempted to accommodate these reservations and this country has an interest in ensuring the directive is adopted in an acceptable form. Perhaps the best example of co-operation in freedom, security and justice was the European arrest warrant which is regarded as a resounding success despite the reservations expressed by member states and a former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Not only are police authorities able to seek arrest warrants in this jurisdiction but Irish authorities have also availed of the process.

The proposed directive is necessary, proportionate and consistent with the principles of subsidiarity. It is important that it adheres to the principles of data protection, the framework decision of 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the context of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It reflects what the Government and other member states are trying to achieve in terms of police and judicial co-operation in combatting the most serious forms of crime, including terrorism.

I welcome the Minister back to the Seanad. He is adorning the House with his presence and he could be the reason for its retention.

I would like to hear his response on two issues. First, Senator Leyden raised a question in respect of the Data Protection Commissioner. Has the directive crossed the commissioner's desk? He is inclined to raise issues where one least expects them. Second, I became anxious at hearing the Minister state: "Of course, the extent of any costs falling to airlines in providing the data will vary depending on the size and scope of their operations." I ask him to ensure that sentence goes nowhere near Michael O'Leary because I can see him adding €2 to every ticket.

I welcome the proposal. Coming from a citizen's rights background, it has taken me some time to come around to support this type of measure. I always believed intuitively that we need to go in this direction, even if I have difficulties coming to terms with it intellectually. I accept that in today's world, we have to make compromises. However, I ask the Minister to bear my concerns in mind when he deals with the issue at European level. One man's terrorist is another's patriot. The Economist published an interesting article on one of the former Yugoslav republics, Bosnia, which is divided into three parts even though it is supposedly one country. I would hate to think what could happen through misuse or abuse of information at senior level. Can the Minister assure us that the data gathered under the directive will be secure?

Why is the directive not being extended to ferries and ships? People are generally trafficked through by other means than airlines. I take exception to the Minister's throwaway line about extending the provisions to flights within Europe. That suggestion is likely to have arisen in a Europhobic nation, specifically, Britain, which is the reason we are not a party to the Schengen agreement. As a result, we have to pass through the far corners of European airports to go through passport control. We should not encourage that kind of Europhobic approach. We should move towards joining the Schengen agreement to break down borders within Europe and maintain external controls.

I regret that we have to introduce this directive but that is the way the world has gone. However, I want to ensure the data are properly protected and I would like the Department's response to the concerns expressed by the Data Protection Commissioner. Given the rulings he has made on other issues, I cannot imagine that he is comfortable with this directive.

I also ask that airlines be prohibited from passing on the cost of compliance to their passengers. As sure as eggs, Ryanair will impose a charge for this directive when it finishes paying for last year's ashes. Europe has already backed away from Mr. O'Leary in regard to modifying the proposed directive on passenger safety and insurance. We should anticipate his response to this measure.

I recognise the urgency of the proposal. We need to be seen to take a Europe-wide approach to terrorism. Perhaps the Minister should start a debate on the meaning of sovereignty, independence and neutrality because nobody in Ireland knows what these words mean. The discussion could be couched in the parable of the good Samaritan. Europe needs to grow its foreign policy to maturity and we need to challenge ourselves on what we mean by our neutrality. Does it mean standing aside and not getting involved in anything that is wrong in the world or does it mean we should act in a controlled and honest way? I have always been in favour of Irish neutrality but I do not know what it means. No state is neutral, neither Sweden which sells arms to every side nor Switzerland which looks after the ill-gotten gains of every corrupt regime. We could invent neutrality for the world.

I welcome the Minister to the House. The necessity of the European Union directive on the retention of passenger data is unquestionable. Like enterprise and governance, crime and terrorism have become globalised, as we are all aware. A co-ordinated international response, therefore, is required. The retention of passenger name data has been used to thwart terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking and anyone concerned about civil liberties is rightly wary of laws that involve retaining personal information. However, the need to protect ourselves from international crime and terrorism is imperative.

These conflicting demands mean that the measures we adopt need to be proportionate and the directive provides for data to be stored for 30 days and then anonymised and retained in an inactive database for a further five years. An independent authority will then monitor compliance. This week we saw a related directive on data retention in the ICT sector was found to be inadequate, largely because it entailed disproportionate measures relative to the differing security and crime protection needs of member states. We should take note of that and I am not entirely sure we need to keep the data for five years. Nonetheless, the protection of passenger identities and retention of the data by the authorities of member states and the independent watchdog provides important checks. Civil liberties are further protected by the provision to allow passengers the right to accurate information about the collection of their data and the right to access, clarify, rectify or delete it, where appropriate. They will also be able to seek legal remedy if their rights have been infringed. The European Union has also stipulated that data concerning ethnic origin, political opinions or religious beliefs may never be transferred. I note in the debate in the Dáil yesterday that the opposition to this directive came from, dare I say it, the usual suspects.

The apologists for terrorism in Sinn Féin and the extremists who claim to be on the left of Irish politics voted against the directive yesterday. These are the people who blithely advocated policies during the general election campaign that would almost certainly lead to the social and economic destruction of our country. The opponents of this directive are the same people who advocate taking wild risks with our future, that of our loved ones, our elderly, our children and the vulnerable members of our society. They believe we should treat our international neighbours with contempt and call it a foreign policy.

When the inevitable consequence of that occurs, they want the people of Ireland to engage in ongoing mass protest. It is no wonder they oppose these measures because experiences such as the street protests in London not long ago, show the screen behind which organised extremists engage in violent and destructive acts. These are the anarchists who operate across international borders that Sinn Féin and the so-called socialists in the Dáil want to facilitate.

As usual, Ireland's political extremists have lost sight of what public representation and socialism are about. Their opposition to this directive is proof again that they have taken their eye off the people because they are too busy reading The Communist Manifesto. If they were in touch with the people they would have noticed something, namely, that millions of people do not mind having their personal data stored. In fact, they voluntarily submit it for storage to private companies all the time. Financial institutions, web-based services and supermarkets are provided with personal data every day of the week. It is right that we are careful about how we approach this directive but that does not mean we should reject it. Rather, we should ensure it is monitored effectively. PNR data are already provided by airlines on flights from the EU to the US, Canada and Australia. I have yet to hear of an instance of misuse of the data.

The opposition we heard yesterday shows that there are people in the Dáil who think it is better to protect a dated ideological perspective than to protect the people the ideology is supposed to support. This directive protects the citizens of Ireland and Europe and does not threaten them, as some would have us believe.

Am I right in that I have one minute to conclude?

We are generous.

We are flexible. That is the great thing about the Upper House.

I thank Senators for the support they have expressed for this proposal. The ultimate civil right that we all have is the right to go about our lives undisturbed by criminals or terrorists, indeed, the right to get on an aeroplane and know that one can safely fly to one's destination without fear of a bomb exploding or a terrorist taking over the flight.

Senator Regan set out the three examples given by the European Commission of instances in which PNR have been usefully used to prevent an incident occurring. Those particular instances speak for themselves. I welcome the support expressed for the directive. I regard what we are doing in this House today and what we did in the Dáil yesterday as part of the more transparent consultative process that is now engaged in in the preparation of directives at European Union level.

Of course, in the context of the issues raised by Members, this directive is at the stage where its terms are being negotiated. The general principles are being set out and some of the issues raised today can be brought into that conversation that my officials and I will be having with our European counterparts. It is, of course, of crucial importance that any information obtained is only used for the purposes intended and that data protection issues are properly addressed. This is something that I know the European Parliament, particularly, has been very conscious of in the context of this particular proposal and has been discussed by it. It is also something the Commission is conscious of and has been discussed at Council of Ministers level.

In the context of the consultative process that has taken place, the directive will be further developed. Any additional protections necessary will be included in it and the benefit of us opting into that discussion is that we can, as a state, help to shape the ultimate architecture of the directive and ensure that it meets the two essential needs, namely, to facilitate the maximum possible co-operation between police forces across Europe in fighting terrorism and organised crime, and providing the protection for citizens that they require, while at the same time providing a proportionate balance in the context of the directive to ensure that people's rights to privacy are protected and that proper data protection measures are in place.

I have absolutely no doubt that all of us in the State who, for example, fly to the United States have no concerns about the information which is now automatically provided for US airlines which we know, because of its provision and the rules that are now operating in relation to the United States, make our flights to the United States a good deal safer than they might otherwise be. It is important to keep these things in perspective and to remain focused on what the purpose of this particular directive is.

Senator O'Toole raised an obvious issue. If one is going to provide this type of information in relation to airlines, why not provide it in relation to shipping? This of course is a directive focused on flight information and it may well be the case that at a later stage matters will progress beyond that. If one is talking about fighting terrorism and crime, all of the terrorists or criminals who make use of the freedoms that apply within Europe to ply their trades can, of course, access as easily ships as a means of travel or trains across Europe as they can flights.

This directive is initially, in its present form, set out to deal with flights between the European Union and non-EU states. I noted the concern that was expressed about its use on an intra-European Union basis. The truth is, unfortunately, within the European Union we have our own homegrown terrorists and organised criminals. In this particular state we are affected by drugs gangs whose tentacles sweep out into other parts of Europe, particularly Britain, Holland and Spain. Just as it is valuable in a non-EU context to have access to flight information, it can equally be important to do so within the European Union context, and also in the context of homegrown terrorism and in the area, unfortunately, of the growing Muslim fundamentalism which we have seen resulting in attacks in England, our nearest neighbour, which resulted in loss of life and serious injury.

In our view — it was a view I expressed on behalf of the Government at the meeting of European Ministers — it would be artificial to provide for access to this information between the European Union and third countries and not to provide it within Europe itself, in particular in circumstances in which one could provide genuine protection for European citizens.

I noted Senator O'Toole's reference to airlines and I am sure the airline he mentioned will be delighted by his mentioning it because its view is that any publicity is good publicity.

I apologise for that.

In the context of the Senator's reference, there has been an estimate done of the approximate cost to airlines of providing information. The information that arises under this is information that airlines already acquire. I understand that across Europe there is not additional information that this directive requires to be acquired by airlines. Much or all of it is acquired at present. In so far as there is a cost it is estimated at about 10 cent per passenger. It is not something that could give an excuse to any airline to legitimately add one or two euro——

Only Ryanair would add an administration cost to the 10 cent, which would bring it up to €10.

The Minister to continue, without interruption.

I refuse to get engaged in that one. The cost is minimal and the additional protections are valuable way beyond the cost.

Coming back to the contributions of Senators Regan and Prendergast, the importance of co-operation within the European Union between police forces and co-operation within the justice area has considerable advantages for all of us.

I will conclude on two notes. The first is to again thank Senators for their contributions. The contributions made will be taken into account in the context of the further work we do on the directive. I would dearly love to engage in Senator O'Toole's invitation to define in one fell swoop what we mean by "sovereignty, defence and neutrality" and produce the ultimate definition for which there would be public acclaim across the length and breadth of the country.

I will chair the commission.

I know it is an issue that could keep this House engaged in a debate for many hours. I welcome Senator O'Toole's comment on that issue. It is a mirror image of a comment I made in the Dáil yesterday in response to a Dáil question when I said it is important that we debate issues of this nature and understand what we mean by them, whether we talk about neutrality or triple lock mechanisms. All of these are issues of relevance to the capacity of the State to engage internationally in peacekeeping operations and how we approach that, but that is a debate for another day. This is a more confined debate.

I thank Senators for their contributions. I look forward to our working to bring about a directive that is put in place that covers all of the concerns that have been addressed which truly provide for extra co-operation between our police forces across Europe in a manner that provides for our citizens the protections to which they are entitled in the context of their civil liberties and human rights.

Question put and agreed to.