Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (485)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

485. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken by An Garda Síochána to work closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland to address the escalating threat of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland; if additional resources will be provided;and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19025/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The callous murder of a talented young journalist in Derry on 18 April was a most heinous act and a stark reminder of the persistent threat from so called "dissident" paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

Tackling this threat is a shared priority for both the Irish and British Governments. Those who seek to attack peace on this island should be very clear that the Gardaí will continue their work, hand-in-hand with the PSNI, to combat the paramilitary gangs and their close criminal associates. That will not change.

The Joint Agency Task Force is just one positive example of the extensive North-South co-operation that is undertaken between the police and other law enforcement agencies aimed at tackling crime and enhancing the safety of all communities on this island.

This Task Force is led by senior officers from An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners and HM Revenue and Customs. A number of other relevant bodies, including the National Crime Agency and the Criminal Assets Bureau are also involved in operational activity. The objective of the Task Force is to build on existing law enforcement frameworks and to increase the collective effectiveness of operational law enforcement actions.

The shared assessment of the threat in Northern Ireland is that it remains 'Severe' (that is to say, a terrorist attack is highly likely). The dissident paramilitary groups continue to focus their efforts primarily on targeting members of the security forces in Northern Ireland, as evidenced tragically by the attack in Derry in which Lyra McKee was murdered and also in recent years by the murders of NI Prison Officers David Black and Adrian Ismay.

While the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, I can assure the Deputy that the Garda authorities maintain a high level of on-going, close co-operation with their counterparts in Northern Ireland and in Britain in responding to this threat. This operational relationship is absolutely central to bearing down on and disrupting the activities of these groups and, therefore, to maintaining security on the island.