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Written Answers - Northern Ireland Issues

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 371.  Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  his response to the view of the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI, that the threat of dissident republican activity was severe; the steps he is taking to tackle this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38681/11]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am sure the House will join me in condemning all subversive groups and their activities. We should be clear that the so-called ‘dissident republicans’ are no more than criminal terrorists using violence in pursuit of their own, often personal, ends. They have no support in the wider community, North and South, for either their criminal activities or their violent methods.

Since early 2009 the threat level in Northern Ireland from these groups has been classified as severe. The threat faced on this island from these subversives is a shared threat and I can assure the House that the Gardaí continue to co-operate seamlessly with the PSNI in actively pursuing them. These groups have targeted the security forces in Northern Ireland, as the tragic deaths of PSNI Constables Ronan Kerr and Stephen Carroll and the murder of two British soldiers, Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey, at Massarene Barracks attest. The House will be aware that there have also been a number of other attempted murders and other bomb attacks.

Operational policing co-operation is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI and their respective forces. Both police chiefs have emphasised the close nature and the high quality of the ongoing co-operation between their forces and it has been instrumental in preventing attacks, combating criminality and saving lives. The two police forces operate a Cross-Border Policing Strategy, which covers areas including cross-Border investigations and operations, intelligence-sharing and security, ICT and emergency planning. Combating the subversive threat has always been an absolute priority for the Garda authorities and it remains so, even in the current economic climate. I can assure the Deputy, and the House, that the Government is committed to maintaining that high level of co-operation between the Gardaí and the PSNI.

I meet regularly with the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, David Ford, and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, and there is also a close and ongoing working relationship between our officials. Indeed, by working together on matters of mutual concern and interest we can improve community safety for all the people on this island. We will continue, in co-operation with the authorities in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, to spare no effort to ensure that those criminal terrorists who seek to subvert the democratic will of the people will face the full rigours of the law.

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