Thursday, 29 April 2021
European Union Regulation: Motion
I am pleased to speak on this motion. While we all want a stronger police force and stronger supports for Interpol, we have to be careful that we do not sign up to something that erodes our status in Europe. We have so many ideas. The document provided by the Commission to member states on 5 March last was sizeable covers many issues. The purpose is to enable Europe to co-operate effectively with private parties. We are all for that. It will also enable Europol to process large, complex data sets and strengthen Europe's role in research and innovation. These are all noble aims but I have concerns.
I agree fully that we must be able to deal with criminals, sophisticated criminal gangs and sophisticated cybercrime. We must be careful as well. It is a difficult issue. There is a reference to strengthening Europe's co-operation with third countries. I note there is mention of giving information to the Schengen organisation. It is rather complex.
In these times, we are seeing how liberties are being seriously eroded. I hope I will not get another lecture from the Minister like the one I got last night. I will not take such a lecture. I believe that our liberties are being significantly restrained and that it is a dangerous time.
At least the Tánaiste corrected the record today when he said that no one opposed any of the issues that I said we had. He corrected the record and I accept that. Nevertheless, it is worrying.
I heard the Tánaiste's reply to Deputy O'Dea about European passports for vaccines.
What position are we going to be in and how many more treaties are we going to have to sign up to? It is time to stop and make haste slowly and to consider what we are doing here. It is not as simple as a nod and a wink and a five-minute debate time for each group. This has very significant implications. There is obviously good and bad in everything but we need to make haste slowly and to be sure that we are not signing ourselves up to something that we will regret. There will be issues. Our citizens above all have to be protected while at the same time trying to protect the laws of the land and our citizens in dealing with drug and other crime as well. We have to be wide awake and to understand what we are signing up to. I have concerns.