Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ceisteanna (309)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

309. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of staff in his Department assigned solely or primarily to work on North-South issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21268/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Primary responsibility for dealing with North-South co-operation and Northern Ireland related issues rests with the Northern Ireland Division in my Department. There are 12 members of staff assigned to that Division, two of whom are on secondment to the British-Irish Joint Secretariat in Belfast. This Division also deals with security matters.

Aside from this specific area of my Department, the Deputy will appreciate that North-South co-operation in justice matters has been enhanced considerably since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and a large number of staff across the range of responsibilities of my Department and the related justice agencies are involved in ongoing, practical North-South initiatives with their counterparts in Northern Ireland as an integral part of their ongoing responsibilities.

For example, the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation on Criminal Justice Matters provides a structured framework for this co-operation with dedicated work streams including youth justice, probation, forensic science, registered offenders and social diversity. The annual Cross-Border Conference on Organised Crime is a long running initiative organised by my Department, the Northern Ireland Justice Department, An Garda Síochána and the PSNI. It provides an ongoing mechanism to exchange and develop best practice and to support operational co-operation in combatting organised crime on a cross-border basis. The Director General of INIS jointly chairs the Common Travel Area Forum with his UK counterpart. It meets regularly to support and enhance co-operation in the management of the Common Travel Area and it naturally maintains a particular focus on the North-South dimension.