Seanad debates

Thursday, 11 April 2024

EU Regulations (Police Co-operation on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings): Motion


9:30 am

Photo of Fintan WarfieldFintan Warfield (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister to the House and congratulate her on her reappointment. I also welcome our guests in the Public Gallery. They are very welcome here.

It is paramount that Ireland remains steadfast in our commitment to international solidarity for those affected by war and conflict globally, but also that we remain steadfast in our opposition to further EU militarisation and interventionism, two things that further the displacement of people and conflict as well.In our view we should not concede power to the European Union to set policies that threaten Ireland with infringement proceedings in areas where we could and should manage things on the basis of the democratic mandate of the Government of the day. Ireland should only opt into laws where the State could not otherwise act and where EU-wide action is in Ireland's interest. That is the basis on which EU policy and proposals should be evaluated. We recognise, however, that international crime and organised crime, and collaboration and co-operation on international crime, are important. These gangs do not respect borders or states. With increasing enforcement against their activities, be it money laundering, drug dealing, people trafficking or smuggling, they have increasingly co-operated among themselves. Accordingly, co-operation with the EU is important and that is what the proposal entails.

As I understand it, the proposed regulation is intended to reinforce Europol's role and inter-agency co-operation in the fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings. For those reasons, this is an important measure. Smugglers and traffickers are in many cases responsible for huge numbers of deaths at EU borders. They often promise the world and then abandon people to the authorities at the first sight of trouble. Even when people make it to the EU, they must then engage in forced labour or are forced to pay off an imaginary debt while their documents are seized and any number of threats are made against them should they alert the authorities.

The Minister referred to the regulation containing a number of measures, which we are happy to support given they are all aimed at increasing the prevention, detection and investigation of migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. In doing so, we are pursuing five objectives, namely, strengthening inter-agency co-operation; strengthening the steer and co-ordination at EU level; improving information sharing; reinforcing member states' resources; and reinforcing Europol's support. The establishment of a reserve pool of national experts that can be called upon by Europol for deployment to assist with migrant smuggling investigations is welcome. It is a further positive to see the increase in funding for Europol. I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to the motion.


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