Deputy Carol Nolan:
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important issue of international co-operation between law enforcement agencies. The so-called Prüm decisions and various other European Council decisions establish a framework for cross-border police co-operation to support the prevention and investigation of crime. As the EU, among others, has noted, one of the main benefits of the Prüm Convention for law enforcement is the ability to compare DNA and fingerprints found at a crime scene in one member state with data held in other member states to see whether there is a match. Information revealing the identity of a possible suspect can only be exchanged once a match has been confirmed. That is to be welcomed.
On a related matter, we saw only last week how the Garda was able to apprehend a person wanted in France for financing Islamic terrorism who has been living in Ireland undetected for almost a decade. That person’s arrest only happened as a direct result of Ireland having joined the EU’s Schengen Information System last March. This is the kind of data-sharing exercise that brings about real results in terms of public safety, once the usual caveats around data protection and verifiability are in place.
There are issues that still need addressing nationally in terms of data sharing. We saw, for instance, the terrible failures in the Shane O’Farrell case, where information was not shared about the warrants out for the man who would go on to kill Shane.
If we had more effective data sharing, Shane’s death might have been avoided, as his killer would have been locked up and his mother’s broken heart might still be in one piece. Crime has no respect for borders. It is only just and right then that we utilise all the resources of country-by-country co-operation to do all that we can to bring those guilty of crimes to justice.