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Question

433. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if concerns regarding dissident activity was discussed at the North South Ministerial Council meeting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47706/14]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will be aware that justice and policing matters are not sectoral areas that are yet included in the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) framework and related issues, therefore, such as the security situation, do not feature formally on the agenda for Plenary meetings of the NSMC. North-South co-operation in these areas takes place bilaterally. However, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford and I attended the NSMC Plenary in December last and this provided us with an opportunity to discuss issues relating to North-South police and criminal justice co-operation, including the matter referred to by the Deputy, in the margins of the Plenary meeting.
I meet very regularly with Minister Ford to discuss the broad range of issues relating to North-South police and criminal justice co-operation, including the security threat. The security situation is also the focus of my meetings with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, who is my British Government counterpart in respect of national security-related matters in Northern Ireland.
The threat posed by paramilitary groups on this island is real and persistent and there is a shared determination, North and South, to continue to take all necessary actions within the law to bear down on these groups. The Garda authorities continue to work very closely at an operational level with their counterparts in Northern Ireland to combat the paramilitary threat. I can assure the Deputy that countering the threat is also a priority for both Governments and we remain committed to supporting the police services in their ongoing work.