Ireland engaging with new EU terror database

Ireland is in discussions with an EU judicial body regarding the operation of a new EU register on terrorists.

Ireland engaging with new EU terror database

Ireland is in discussions with an EU judicial body regarding the operation of a new EU register on terrorists.

The Counter-Terrorism Register is being set up to assist member states in their investigation and prosecution of militants, including returning foreign fighters.

The Department of Justice said the register is of “particular relevance” with regard to the exchange of information and cooperation on terrorist offences.

The database was launched a week ago by Eurojust, the EU's judicial cooperation unit. It pulls together information from the 28 member states on their investigations, prosecutions and convictions of militants.

This includes EU citizens who have gone to fight with jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.

The EU's Security Union Commissioner Julian King has estimated that at least 1,300 EU citizens, half of them children, are being held in Syria and Iraq.

Ireland has at least three known Irish citizens in camps in northern Syria: Dundalk woman Lisa Smith and her two-year-old daughter and naturalised citizen Alexandr Bekmirzaev.

An estimated 30 Irish citizens went to Syria and Iraq to fight with various groups, and an estimated five of them have died, including one, Khalid Kelly, with the Islamic State.

Europol, the EU police agency, said this year that Ireland was one of three European countries that had observed foreign terrorist fighters travelling to Libya and North Africa.

Eurojust said the register will streamline the exchange of information between EU members states on potential terrorist offences.

Mr King said it will help countries establish links between cases to ensure criminals and terrorists “do not go unpunished”.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said: “A fast exchange of data can be the key to the success or failure of an investigation."

The Department of Justice said the register is “of particular relevance with regard to the exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences”.

A statement said: “Eurojust has very recently established a register designed to support and streamline the exchange of information between EU Member States.

“Eurojust is engaged in work to make the register operational and is engaging with Member States, including Ireland, in this regard.”

Security sources said Eurojust is “an invaluable resource” to both the Gardaí and the DPP in fighting international criminal activity and serious crime.

Eurojust provides advice and assistance with investigations, prosecutions and judicial cooperation tools, such as the European Arrest Warrant, the European Investigation Order and joint investigation teams.

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