Written answers

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Department of Foreign Affairs

International Terrorism

5:00 pm

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Question 59: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps Ireland is taking to assist in tackling international terrorism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26901/05]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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International co-operation is an essential element in the campaign against international terrorism. Ireland has played, and will continue to play, its full part in international efforts to defeat this scourge of our times. Of course, given that terrorism has the potential to affect almost every aspect of our lives, it is not possible to describe in detail every action undertaken by Ireland to confront it.

Ireland participates in the efforts of multilateral organisations, in particular those of the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, in their engagement against international terrorism. Ireland also plays its part in the counter-terrorist work undertaken by specialist international organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Maritime Organisation and the financial action task force of the OECD. In addition, Ireland maintains regular bilateral contacts on this issue with partners in Europe, North America and further afield. These contacts cover a wide-range of areas — diplomatic, legal, financial and law enforcement. They also include specialist contacts in areas such as aviation and transport security, document security, the security of the financial sector and emergency responses.

Ireland also implements the provisions of the principal Security Council resolutions relating to terrorism. Resolution 1373 was adopted by the Council in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. As Ireland was a member of the Council at the time, it participated in the negotiations leading up to its adoption. The resolution requires states to introduce comprehensive financial and legislative measures with a view to developing their counter-terrorist capacity. Ireland reports on a regular basis to the Security Council's counter-terrorism committee in relation to its implementation of the required measures.

Resolution 1373 also calls on states to become parties to the 12 existing international conventions against terrorism. Ireland has met that ratification target. In addition, on 16 September last, while attending the United Nations General Assembly, I signed on behalf of Ireland, subject to ratification, the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Ireland will also work hard at this session of the General Assembly to secure agreement on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, including an agreed definition of terrorism.

Ireland also fulfils its obligations under Security Council Resolution 1267 and related resolutions, which are specifically directed against Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. Ireland reports to the 1267 sanctions committee on the implementation of those resolutions which cover, inter alia, the freezing of economic assets, travel bans and arms embargoes.

At the European Union level, Ireland has played a significant role in shaping the Union's reaction to terrorist outrages. Ireland held the EU Presidency at the time of the Madrid bombings in March 2004. Its co-ordination of the Union response led to the adoption of two documents that still shape and direct the Union's response to terrorism, the European Union declaration on combating terrorism and the revised EU plan of action on combating terrorism. The plan of action comprises 170 individual actions covering all aspects of the Union's activities. These actions have been adjusted and their time tables tightened as the need arises, for example, in response to the London bombings. Much of this work is undertaken by the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council. Ireland is represented on the Council by my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, who is, of course, responsible for many of the operational aspects of the fight against terrorism.

Other Ministers have particular responsibility for aspects of Ireland's counter-terrorist effort, for example, the Minister for Finance in countering the financing of terrorism, the Minister for Transport in ensuring the safety of the transport network, including transport by air, the Minister for Communications, the Marine and Natural Resources for travel at sea and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for civil protection. The Minister for Defence heads the Government task force on emergency planning, which is charged with overseeing the national response to possible terrorist attacks.

As well as contributing to international efforts to defeat terrorist attacks and counter the spread of terrorism, Ireland acts on the basis that it is insufficient to deal with the manifestations of terrorism alone and that it is also necessary to address the factors which contribute to its development. Ireland also operates on the basis that it is necessary to respect human rights at all times in the fight against terrorism.

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