Thursday, 22 November 2018

Questions (102)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

102. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of instances in which the PSNI has entered here in the past five years to assist An Garda Síochána with its operations; the number of times An Garda Síochána has requested permission to leave here to assist the PSNI in Northern Ireland with its operations; the level of engagement he and An Garda Síochána have had with their counterparts in Northern Ireland in the context of Brexit in order to ensure that both police services can co-operate in the event of a hard border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48704/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

There is very close and substantial on-going cooperation between an Garda Síochána and the PSNI in respect of all aspects of cross border policing, notably in combating organised crime, road safety and responding to the security threat posed by paramilitary groups. As such, the presence of members of An Garda Síochána and the PSNI in each other's jurisdictions takes place in the context of the on-going co-operation to keep all communities on this island safe. The Deputy will be aware that An Garda Síochána is the only police service empowered by statute to exercise policing and security services in the State and, in accordance with the law, to engage in co-operation with other police services in this regard.

The two police services have for many years operated a joint Cross Border Policing Strategy, the overarching purpose of which is to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island of Ireland. The Strategy covers the range of policing activities and contains a series of initiatives in which both police services are actively engaged and which will go towards fulfilling its objectives. A good practical example of on-going co-operation is the Annual Cross Border Conference on Organised Crime, the most recent of which was held in County Down on 7 November. The Conference brings officers from An Garda Síochána and the PSNI together to enhance co-operation between all law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border under the shared objective of combatting organised crime.

Close police co-operation on this island across the full range of policing responsibilities will continue regardless of the final shape of Brexit. I would emphasise that it is the Government’s firm intention that the same border arrangements as currently apply on the island of Ireland will continue. In its approach to the Brexit negotiations, the Government has ensured that protecting the gains of the peace process and the avoidance of a hard border are the highest priority for Ireland, our partner Member States and the European Commission. I have discussed this matter with my counterparts in the British Government and I know that protecting the gains of the peace process are a clear and shared objective.