The main body of counter-terrorism legislation in Ireland is the Offences against the State Acts 1939-1998. These Acts were introduced and have been primarily used to counter the threat posed by the IRA in all its manifestations, including, latterly, the dissident republican terrorist organisations of the so-called Real IRA and Continuity IRA. The Offences against the State Acts provide for a range of terrorist-related offences, with maximum court-imposed sentences varying according to the specific offence.
In order to enhance the State’s response to international terrorism, the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 was introduced. This Act gives effect to a number of international instruments directed to terrorism and meets commitments which the State has undertaken as part of the European Union and the broader international community, including the United Nations. The 2005 Act also amends Irish law and, in particular, the Offences against the State Acts, to address the problem of international terrorism in a domestic context. Specifically, Section 5 of the 2005 Act provides that a terrorist group that engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the commission, in or outside the State, of a terrorist activity is an unlawful organisation within the meaning and for the purposes of the 1939-1998 Acts. Accordingly, the Offences against the State Acts now apply with any necessary modifications and have effect in relation to such terrorist groups.
Role of the Garda Síochána
In relation to the terrorist threat to Ireland generally, An Garda Síochána maintains an up-to-date assessment of these threats through analysis of intelligence gathered from domestic and international sources. In the latter regard, An Garda Síochána has developed excellent lines of communication and co-operation with police and security services in the European Union and further afield.