Ireland seeks Schengen alerts on terrorists

Ireland should get alerts about potential terrorists and suspect passports identified by other EU countries once the country is linked up to the Schengen Information System, according to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

She recently agreed to spend €4m on the system, which means gardaí, customs officials, and other law-enforcement agencies will get alerts in real time after they are put into the system by agencies in the other 27 member states.

Britain, which like Ireland is not yet part of the Schengen border-free area, has been part of the complex internet system for some time.

The country has been limited to receiving alerts only on law enforcement such as stolen cars, fake passports, and missing persons.

However, Ms Fitzgerald said she hoped Ireland would be in a position to receive live alerts, such as those on terrorists, adding that security is now a very important part of the migration issue.

The European Commission has also proposed a border and coast guard for the Schengen countries that would be able to take over the external borders of the Schengen area if the national services of that country were not in a position to control it. However, Ireland would not take part in this proposal.

Ireland will continue to operate the travel-free area with Britain, said Ms Fitzgerald, adding that her department is in discussion on the large number of Pakistani and Bangladeshi men primarily coming from Britain when their visas have expired.

“Everyone is entitled to an assessment but that is a concern,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

While Ireland is not part of Schengen, the country benefits from it in several ways, including economically.

Therefore, it has a deep interest in maintaining the area and this means dealing better with both the migration and terrorism threats.

Ms Fitzgerald recently visited 170 Syrians who arrived from a UN camp in Lebanon last year.

The first family of 10 arrived last week under the EU’s scheme to relieve the pressures from Greece and Italy. Ms Fitzgerald said integration is important.

She said there was a lot of help offered by Irish people and, earlier this month, she met representatives of the Christian and Muslim religions with offers to help people integrate.

She said family reunification is difficult because of the security issue.

However, she said gardaí are helping with vetting on the ground before families are being taken to Ireland.

Ms Fitzgerald was attending an informal two-day meeting of justice ministers in Amsterdam where the threat to the continuation of the Schengen area was foremost on the agenda.


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