Home > Dáil Éireann debate. EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Motion.

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Motion. (21 Sep 2021)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú: On this motion, Sinn Féin supports the extension. It is necessary. We just need to ensure that a complete audit is carried out in the context of our ability to fight organised crime and drug gangs, that we have the technical capacity required, that whatever relationships are needed are built up and that information is shared. I reiterate what Deputy Martin Kenny said. We also need to ensure that our approach is victim-centred and that we allow a scenario in which the information necessary to assist people who find themselves in terrible situations and who are the victims of crime is, insofar as is possible, facilitated in crossing borders.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: The deadline relating to this is this Friday, 24 September. We have been informed that there should not be vote in this House because of that deadline. I do not believe anyone will disagree with the passing of this motion. I do not anticipate that people will call for a vote. As a number of previous speakers indicated, however, this is not the way to do things.

There is no doubt the exchange of this data is critically important to the UK, Ireland and the wider EU law enforcement communities. Thus far, the exchange of data has been largely unaffected by Brexit, which is a significant win for the UK. While the latter has lost access to major live data exchanges, such as the Schengen information system, British security experts have identified Prüm data of near equal importance. This database provides quick access to DNA data from 11 countries. The UK National Crime Agency credits the data set with more than 89,000 DNA matches between July 2019 and September 2020, which is significant. With this database, UK police can obtain DNA or fingerprint information from other EU states within 15 minutes. It used to take the Metropolitan Police up to four months to receive the same information. It is, therefore, a significant exchange of information.

On data exchange with the EU, the UK has the most favourable terms of any third country, although those terms are subject to an evaluation of the UK's data-handling procedures. This evaluation is still in the early stages and must be allowed to reach a conclusion. The draft proposal provided makes a point of noting that the UK passed a previous EU Commission evaluation in 2018. Simply because the UK passed a previous evaluation, we should not assume it will do so again or take it for granted. Hopefully, it will pass that evaluation. As a third country, the UK must be held to higher standards than it was previously. There have been problems in the past with data protection. No one wants the UK's national security to be at risk. As our nearest neighbour and a country that shares our island, it is all the more important for us in that context. If the UK is incapable of reaching the standards to be met in that evaluation, we cannot simply throw our hands up and assume that the data of millions of EU citizens should be provided in the context of national security.

A higher standard is required because the UK is now a third country.

Having said that, it is really important that we have a good relationship between police forces across jurisdictions. That is nowhere more important than with our nearest neighbour. Last year, a leaked 2018 EU report showed that the UK had deliberately and repeatedly abused access to the Schengen Information System, SIS. This is something I expect will come up as part of the evaluation. It is important that there be a two-way process given that the UK is no longer part of the EU. It was shown that British border authorities were acting on alerts the UK deemed to be important to itself but not giving the same weight to requests from other member states. There was a frequent pattern of the UK not taking action when a country wanted an arrest warrant for a person leaving the UK for another EU country. There will be significant issues in terms of making sure this is very much a two-way process and that there is equality in it even though the UK is no longer a member of the EU.

Will the Minister of State confirm whether the data protection evaluation will also go in front of the European Parliament, as it had to do on the previous occasion?

[Click this link to read the full debate on the Oireachtas website]

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
21 September 2021

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