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Question

213. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a formal decision was taken to allow PSNI officers to carry weapons here, which has been reported as being the case since 2013. [17358/19]

215. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the memorandum of understanding between the PSNI and An Garda Síochána regarding security arrangements for a person (details supplied) will be completed. [17360/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 215 together.
The arrangements that may be put in place for the protection of individuals are first and foremost matters for the Garda authorities who have operational responsibility and who work closely with their police and security counterparts in other jurisdictions in this regard.  An Garda Síochána and the PSNI co-operate on an ongoing basis in what is an essential relationship in guaranteeing security and community safety on this island.
For the very obvious reasons of the safety of individuals and the proper operation of security measures, it is not possible to go into the detail of the arrangements that may be put in place.  To do so would be clearly contrary to the public interest and simply hand an advantage to those who wish to do harm.  I do not propose to depart from the long-standing approach of my predecessors in this regard.
What I will say is that the overriding priority in these arrangements is the personal safety of individuals who may be exposed to danger.  The arrangements currently in place have been developed and are operated on the basis of a threat assessment and a risk analysis carried out by the operational experts in these matters. 
Arrangements may be put in place in accordance with the law whereby members of services from outside the State may be licensed to carry firearms here solely for the purposes of providing close personal protection and only on the advice of and in co-operation with the Garda Authorities.
Under Section 2 the Firearms (Firearms Certificate for Non- Residents) Act 2000, the Minister for Justice and Equality has a power to grant firearms certificates, including to official security personnel from other jurisdictions, where it is deemed necessary to do so. Decisions in relation to the grant of certificates to such personnel are made in accordance with the legislation and following consultation with the Garda authorities. This is a normal and established feature of relations between states.
A reciprocal arrangement is in place between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI concerning the carriage of firearms in relation to certain people travelling between the two jurisdictions.  The grant of firearms certificates for this purpose is undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 2000.