Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
Question 369: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the Schengen Agreement with regard to cross border cooperation between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána; his further views that there is room to go further with respect to a hot pursuit policy; what he envisages for the future with regard to the Schengen Agreement and further cooperation between the PSNI and the Gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17413/11]
As the Deputy will be aware, there is excellent police-to-police co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, particularly in the ongoing fight against paramilitary groups and organised crime. The relationship between the two police forces has never been closer and is being brought forward in the context of the recently launched Cross Border Policing Strategy. This co-operation includes, on occasion, members of the Garda Síochána accompanying PSNI officers in Northern Ireland and PSNI officers accompanying members of An Garda Síochána in this jurisdiction. However, neither An Garda Síochána nor the PSNI exercise police powers in such cases while in the other's jurisdiction. In their applications to participate in the Schengen Agreement, neither Ireland nor the United Kingdom will be opting in at this time to Article 41, which provides for hot pursuit across international borders. In order to be effective, it will be necessary for both member states to opt in at the same time. However, I repeat that An Garda Síochána and the PSNI already maintain very close co-operation and contact in real-time operational scenarios.