Minister Shatter welcomes closeness of cross-border co-operation
First meeting with Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford
The Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., and Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, Mr David Ford MLA, met today in Belfast for the first time since Minister Shatter’s appointment.
The meeting, which was held in Minister Ford's Stormont offices, was also attended by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and officials. The two police chiefs briefed the meeting on the security situation and on ongoing cross-border co-operation across the range of policing activity.
Speaking afterwards, Minister Shatter said: "I am delighted to get this early opportunity to meet with Minister Ford. The importance of cross-border cooperation in the fight against crime cannot be overstated. The Garda Commissioner and Chief Constable have briefed us on the work that the two police forces are doing and I have been struck by the high level of cooperation taking place and by the closeness of the relationship between the two police forces. This, in turn, is matched by a determination at political level to cooperate in every way possible."
Addressing the threat posed by so-called dissident groups, the Minister said: "We will not allow the small number of people who remain opposed to peace to distract us from the progress that has been made. What the so-called dissidents are dissenting from is democracy. Their campaign of violence is morally bankrupt and designed to set at nothing the will of the Irish people. On behalf of the Irish Government, I want to reiterate our commitment to the work of our police services and to implementing the democratic will of the Irish people, North and South, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement."
The two Ministers also discussed criminal justice cooperation in areas such as probation, youth justice, forensic science and the management of sex offenders. Minister Shatter stated: "It is clear from today’s meeting that there is excellent work ongoing across the range of criminal justice areas. That can only be to the benefit of the public on both sides of the border. It is vital that we continue to learn from each other and work together."
Also speaking following the meeting, Minister Ford said: "North South co-operation is key in the fight against crime and to ensure that criminals do not use the border in an attempt to escape justice. Devolution has provided the opportunity to enhance working relationships between both justice departments and it is important that this continues, at both a political and operational level."
24 March 2011