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[Oireachtas] Europol Bill 2012: Second Stage (Resumed). (23 Oct 2012)

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Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: I acknowledge the presence of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, and thank him for attending. In the past ten years individuals involved in trying to protect the State and the other states of Europe have been facing ever-increasing sophistication among the perpetrators of international crime. Whether in regard to money laundering, prostitution rings throughout Europe or the kidnapping of children, the bar has been raised for law enforcers. The primary purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the EU decision establishing Europol. From the point of view of our small nation, one of the biggest problems for us is the length of the coastline. It is a well known fact that what goes on in our waters during the hours of darkness is frightening. It is a well known fact that boats pull up alongside each other in the middle of the night and that the necessary resources are not available to police such activity. Anything could be changing hands when this is happening. 

(Speaker Continuing)

 [Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:] I do not intend to belittle it but it could be something as straightforward as illegal cigarettes changing hands from one boat to another or it could be something as horrifying as people who have been abducted in one country being brought to another country under the cover of darkness. I support any measure that will help to fight organised criminals.

 

I thank the people who work in the Irish media who expose organised criminal gangs and in so doing put themselves in danger. A number of newspapers put much time and resources into crime coverage and but for their efforts, criminals would have a much freer hand. I compliment the Garda Síochána on its excellent work, especially since they are dealing with a completely different type of criminal to those who were operating ten or 20 years ago. The criminals have considerable resources available to them and they are highly organised. They use all types of modern technology to try to evade detection and arrest. I will support the Minister for Justice and Equality in any way to ensure that we win the fight against organised crime. It is important to employ proper resources on the streets and in coastal areas at night to tackle highly illegal activity. It is difficult to police coastlines. I compliment the work that has been done in bringing the Bill before the House. I thank the Minister and support the Bill.

 

Deputy Seán Kenny: Criminal intelligence analysis has been recognised by law enforcement as a useful tool for more than 25 years. It is successfully used within the international community. While there are many definitions of criminal intelligence analysis in use throughout the world, the definition agreed in June 1992 by a group of 12 European member states and Interpol, which was subsequently adopted by other countries is as follows: the identification of and provision of insight into the relationship between crime data and other potentially relevant data with a view to police and judicial practice.

 

Europol is the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency. It was established in 1995 under the Europol convention. However, owing to difficulties with amending conventions which require lengthy ratification by member states it was agreed to replace the convention with an EU Council decision. The primary purpose of the Europol Bill 2012 is to give effect to the 2009 EU Council decision establishing Europol.

 

In 2008 the Houses of the Oireachtas approved the adoption by the State of the Council decision. The previous convention was given force of law in the State through the Europol Act 1997. When the Bill is enacted it will repeal and replace the Act. Unlike a convention however, a Council decision requires that each and every aspect of the instrument with a domestic impact must be provided for in legislation. For that reason the Bill is significantly more detailed than the Europol Act 1997.

 

Europol’s activities could be broadly categories as information management on the one hand and semi-operational tasks on the other. Europol interacts with member states through national units within each state where it has been established. The national unit in this country is within An Garda Síochána. While incorporating the provisions of the convention and its protocols the Council decision also introduces some new features to Europol. They include an extension to Europol’s mandate. Organised crime was originally the sole focus of Europol’s activities. The Council decision largely reflects the provisions of the convention. However, it removes the requirement that an organised criminal structure must be involved before Europol can act. It will now be sufficient for the crime concerned to be a serious offence involving two or more member states. These offences include the main transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and also include murder and kidnapping.

 

Two months ago in my constituency the drug-related killing of Alan Ryan took place in Clongriffin. The cold-blooded killing was carried out in broad daylight in front of young children who are still traumatised by what they saw. I welcome the changes to the structure of Europol that will make it easier for the organisation to take action against serious crime within the European Union such as drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, murder and kidnapping. We are all aware that such crimes are becoming more prominent in society and must be tackled. In the Irish context we have seen in the past decade how Irish drug lords are running their operations from Spain and the Netherlands. We have also seen how subversive organisations have attempted to smuggle weapons into the European Union. The Bill will help law enforcement agencies to gather intelligence on such activities and to work together to break down criminal and subversive organisations across the borders of EU member states, which will save lives and ensure the well-being of EU citizens in this country and elsewhere. I support the Bill and commend the Minister.

 

Dail Eireann Debate

Europol Bill 2012: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)

Tuesday, 23 October

 

Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:23 October 2012
EndNote:View
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Law enforcement and the justice system
MM-MO Crime and law > Substance related offence > Drug offence > Illegal transportation of drugs (smuggling / trafficking)
VA Geographic area > Europe
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Law enforcement agency
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime > Crime associated with substance production and distribution
MM-MO Crime and law > Organised crime

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