Written Answers. - Anti-Terrorism Measures.

John Bruton

Ceist:

124 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on, and the actions he is taking pursuant to, the conclusions of the European Council of 21 September 2001. [24850/01]

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

146 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is intended to put forward proposals at the European Council Summit in Laeken in December 2001 to strengthen EU powers in the fight against international terrorism; and if the Government will propose that the role of Europol should be strengthened and extended. [23829/01]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 124 and 146 together.

Work is continuing within the European Union on taking forward the plan of action and other conclusions adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council at its meeting on 20 September and by the European Council at its meeting on 21 September. Within the framework of the Council of Ministers, that work includes the questions of the introduction of a European arrest warrant, the adoption of a common definition of terrorism, the preparation of a common European list of terrorist organisations, the sharing of information with Europol on terrorism measures relating to the freezing of assets and a directive on prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering. In relation to freezing of assets action has already been taken in accordance with EU regulations giving effect to decisions of the UN sanctions committee in appropriate cases. My Department is playing a full and active part in this work and considerable progress has already been made in developing detailed proposals. It is intended that the results of that work will come to the Justice and Home Affairs Council for decision when it meets on 6 and 7 December.
The United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was signed by Ireland on 15 October 2001. A Bill is at present being prepared in my Department as a matter of urgency which will allow for the early ratification of the convention by this country. Ireland endorsed the proposals to combat terrorism agreed by Ministers at the special Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 20 September. This included in particular the assignment of national experts on terrorism to a special Europol unit. Ireland has assigned an expert on terrorism from the Garda Síochana to work with this unit in the Hague. A number of proposals to amend the Europol convention to improve the effectiveness of Europol have been put forward. The Council of Ministers agreed recently that a number of these proposals should be examined as a matter of priority. Ireland is participating actively in that process.