I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 40 together.
I am happy to inform the Deputy that there is close and ongoing co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland on all aspects of policing. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI are responsible for operational police co-operation and they have repeatedly emphasised the priority they attach to the high quality co-operation between the two services which plays a significant role in combating crime, particularly in the border region.
The two police forces operate a joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island. Senior management in the Garda Síochána and the PSNI have met regularly to progress initiatives put forward in the strategy document. All of these are important elements in enabling the two forces to work more effectively together in tackling crime and promoting community safety for all communities on this island. I meet very regularly and maintain ongoing contact with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, and we have developed a close working relationship which is of great benefit in addressing matters of mutual concern and in enhancing effective co-operation and co-ordination on all policing and criminal justice matters. Indeed, we frequently discuss these matters by phone as they arise.
Under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters we operate a structured framework to further enhance and develop this North-South co-operation. Officials from our Departments and from the various agencies in the justice sector, such as the probation services and the youth justice services, meet regularly to assess and report to us on developments across a range of areas where co-operation is being pursued. It is this relationship at the operational level between the police forces and the other services in the justice sector which is the key to successful joint working to prevent and detect crime, and to pursue those responsible for it. In that context, it is not clear to me that there is value to be added by creating a new or additional structure at this time. Rather the focus is on enhancing and developing the strong partnership that already exists between the police forces and the other services working in the justice sector on this island.