Security data checks in force for people from outside EU travelling to Ireland

People travelling to Ireland from outside the European Union will have their information cross-checked against US, British, and Interpol terrorist watch lists under new measures set to be rubber-stamped by Government today.

Cabinet is expected to sign off on the security measures in light of ongoing terrorism concerns after the Paris and Brussels IS attacks and a belief our defences need to be improved ahead of Brexit-related common travel area talks with Britain.

Under plans initially brought before cabinet on June 14, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will seek approval from Government colleagues for Ireland to accept new security software from the US designed to check who is coming into this country.

The technology — which was provided due to our visa waiver agreement with the US — will allow Irish officials to check names, dates of birth, and specific travel identification for people travelling from non-EU nations against US, British, and Interpol watch lists.

Officials familiar with the measure were keen to stress last night that no information about ordinary passengers whose presence does not raise concerns will be passed onto the US, British, or other international security personnel, with the records destroyed within 24 hours under strict EU rules.

However, while Irish authorities will also retain control of the information in cases where the watch list checks result in red flags over particular individuals, international authorities will be informed in such circumstances of an individual’s location for security reasons.

The decision to accept the US watch list software was agreed in principle by Cabinet on June 14 in order to allow Irish officials to integrate systems in this country to the technology.

However, despite it being the subject of strict data protection rules in Ireland and the EU’s Communications of Passenger Data regulation 2011 — which insists files must be deleted after three years if an individual is no longer considered a concern — the move is likely to be criticised .

In April, similar but separate “passenger name records” legislation allowing airlines to store and share information with national security personnel was controversially passed by the EU parliament, despite criticism it was an attack on individual liberties from some Irish MEPs.

The move is one of the key matters due to be discussed by cabinet today, outside of the 700-page Comptroller and Auditor General’s report into Nama.


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