Dáil debates

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

4:00 pm

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I would not wish to unduly upset the Deputy but it might not be a surprise to him to hear that "Spooks" is my favourite television programme. It is a great pity it is not on television at present. It should also not surprise the Deputy that there is substantial co-operation between us and the United States in dealing with organised crime and international terrorism. There is also substantial co-operation between us and our European Union partners and the British Government in addressing these issues. It is of great value and importance to this country that in counteracting a broad range of activities by organised criminals, be it drug importation or human trafficking, there is capacity to exchange intelligence, interact with each other and to learn best practice from each other.

Intelligence is a key aspect in all aspects of policing and national security, from day-to-day operational policing to the sophistication and complexity of investigations into organised crime. Good intelligence gathering and co-operation between democratic countries in acquiring intelligence are crucial in the engagement of a police force. It is important that my Department is fully informed of the best practices to apply in dealing with matters in the justice area. My Department, which has a primary strategic role in supporting the Garda Síochána in tackling crime and promoting a peaceful society, has a very substantial interest in participating in this conference and in consideration of issues related to intelligence gathering and analysis in the broadest sense, both from a practical and academic perspective.

The Secretary General of the Department received and accepted an invitation to speak at the conference, which is focused on best practices in the intelligence community. I presume the Deputy would not wish this country to operate as a solitary island in a vacuum and never engage with other countries in dealing with international crime and terrorism and issues in which we have an interest as a democratic society to protect both the State and the citizens of the State from those engaged in criminality.

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