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Question

8. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update on the threat posed to the State by acts of terrorism; the action she has taken to address this threat; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6988/15]

Answer

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: We take the opportunity to express our sympathy with to those impacted by the appalling terrorist activity in Europe in recent days, weeks and months. Considerable concern has been expressed at the meetings of the Justice and Home Affairs Council where this item is top of the agenda for discussion in terms of security across Europe. Hundreds of young Europeans have gone to fight and some have returned and are radicalised.
These events show that all states must remain vigilant and attentive to the risks posed by international terrorism. Ireland, like any other democratic country with similar values, is not immune to a threat from international terrorism. While an attack on Ireland is possible, it is not assessed at present as likely and there is no specific information relating to threat to Ireland. An Garda Síochána is keeping the level of threat from international terrorism under continuous review in the light of the ongoing developments and is continuing to take all appropriate measures to counteract this threat. Of course, it has the full support of the Government in this regard.
Approximately 30 people of Irish origin have travelled to these areas. We need to keep some perspective on this number. There has been some distortion in regard to the analysis of this number which includes individuals who travelled to Libya, Tunisia and other Arab states to take part in the popular uprisings known as the Arab Spring, which began in 2010. Some of these individuals have returned and approximately three have died in the conflict.
There are a small number of people based here who support extremism and who would try to facilitate others to travel to conflict zones. Their activities are closely monitored by An Garda Síochána and there is very close co-operation with the security services in other jurisdictions.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
The Government is committed to ensuring the necessary legislation is in place to address terrorist threats. The Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014 has already passed all Stages in the Seanad. The Bill, when enacted, will create the three new offences of public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. These offences will carry sentences of up to ten years imprisonment on conviction on indictment. It is expected that the Bill will be brought before the Dáil shortly.
Any response to this issue must be proportionate to the level of the threat and multifaceted in approach. Engagement with minority or at risk communities is essential. In that context, An Garda Síochána operates a progressive programme of community engagement with minority communities. The aim of these programmes is to build a sense of inclusiveness among minority communities and to address feelings of marginalisation to avoid providing fertile ground for radicalisation and those seeking to radicalise others.
The radicalising affect of online propaganda must also be dealt with. Ireland, with its European counterparts, will also seek to work with all relevant stakeholders to develop further initiatives in this domain. From the perspective of domestic terrorism, the ongoing threat from paramilitary groups remains a matter of the highest concern for the Government. Garda actions to disrupt and prevent actions by paramilitary groups continue. The Garda will continue to use all lawful means at its disposal to bear down on the paramilitaries and will continue to work very closely with its counterparts in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom to this end. This excellent relationship between the Garda and the PSNI is key to security co-operation and it has consistently been emphasised by the two police chiefs as essential and successful. This operational relationship is mirrored by ongoing contacts at ministerial and official level.