Gardaí concerned over European arrest warrants following UK exit

The impact of Britain’s EU vote on the operation of the European arrest warrant is one of the key security concerns of gardaí and justice officials here.

Security sources are also concerned at the ramifications of the withdrawal of British police from the EU police agency Europol, as well as other key law enforcement agencies like MAOC-N, which combats international drug trafficking.

This is on top of the wider issue of border controls with Northern Ireland and the potential impact on the common travel area between Ireland and the UK.

While Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald moved to reassure the public after the referendum that police and justice cooperation would continue, she expressed significant concern before the vote at the potential impact.

In response to a parliamentary question on June 8, she said either the EU or the UK could decide to restore border controls if the Leave vote won. She said: “It is clear that any changes could potentially have a most serious impact on cross-border police co-operation and for the citizens of both countries who have enjoyed free movement since the foundation of the Irish State.”

She added: “Withdrawal from the EU also raises issues in respect of a whole range of police and judicial co-operation EU instruments including the European arrest warrant which are vital to cross-border security.”

A senior security source said there was “significant concern” regarding the European Arrest Warrant.

Recent figures from the Department of Justice show that 268 requests have been sent from Irish to British authorities between 2004 and 2014 regarding the arrest and transfer of suspects. Britain has sent Ireland 246 requests for the arrest and transfer of people from here.

Justice documents show that principal offences in such arrests include murder, grievous bodily harm, sexual offences including rape and abuse of children, drugs offences, robbery, fraud, and human trafficking. Security sources said Ireland would need to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Britain for a replacement system and introduce legislation to allow for it. But it is unlikely to be as efficient and streamlinedand could be subject to more legal challenges.

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