· Minister Fitzgerald stresses the importance of continued and enhanced intelligence sharing between Member States

· Minister Fitzgerald also finalises new arrangements between Ireland and the UK with respect to the sharing of Advance Passenger Information


24 March 2016


The Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD today attended an extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Committee being held in response to Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.


Speaking at the meeting Minister Fitzgerald expressed the deepest sympathies of the Government and the People of Ireland to her Belgian colleagues. Minister Fitzgerald said ‘We share your deep sense of loss and sorrow at these heinous acts but we come together as Europeans to stand in strong and proud defence of our shared values of freedom, openness, tolerance and democracy.’


Minister Fitzgerald indicated that Member States were united in their continuing determination to face down these threats. Speaking to her colleagues the Minister said ‘We must work harder than ever to improve information sharing, to strengthen our laws on terrorism, to reduce the supply of illegal firearms, to enhance our interaction with minority communities and to work to ensure a robust response to radicalisation.’


The Minister underlined Ireland’s commitment to enhancing EU wide co-operation and welcomed the agreement today among Ministers to take certain steps to strengthen the fight against terrorism.


Also, with regard to the Common Travel Area the Minister announced new arrangements to allow for the sharing of Advance Passenger Information (API) between Ireland and the United Kingdom. ‘I am finalising a statutory instrument which will provide the legal basis through which Irish based carriers – airlines and ferry companies - can provide the UK authorities with API data. In effect, this means that details of all passengers entering the Common Travel Area can be shared, among the appropriate law enforcement and immigration authorities, before they start their journey. This is the culmination of detailed discussions between my Department and the UK Home Office. This new system will apply to airline and ferry passengers and I expect it will be operational in a matter of weeks.’


Minister Fitzgerald stressed the importance of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK which allows free movement between the two countries stating - ‘Clearly we cannot allow this facility, which is of critical, national, strategic importance, to be abused by anybody who would seek to inflict harm on our peoples and countries. It is a critical issue, not just for Ireland, but for all member states that they are in a position to strengthen border controls through the sharing of information on suspect passengers prior to their travel from one jurisdiction to another.’


Concluding Minister Fitzgerald stated ‘We can only defeat the terrorists by closer, practical and sensible measures such as this.’ The Minister reiterated her call to all Irish members of the European Parliament to support early adoption of the Directive on Passenger Name Recognition, an important element in the struggle against terrorism.