Ministers Ahern and Goggins welcome information-sharing on sex offenders

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., and the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Paul Goggins MP, have welcomed the signing by An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland of an agreement on the sharing of personal data in relation to the investigation of sexual offences and the monitoring of sex offenders.

The new arrangements were discussed by the Ministers during an hour long meeting at Leinster House today in Dublin. Also under discussion was increased co-operation on cross-border security.

Praising the two police forces for their work on the agreement, Minister Ahern said:  "I welcome the conclusion of this agreement by An Garda Síochána and the PSNI.  It highlights one of the many areas of co-operation between the two police forces, and the concrete benefits for people in both parts of Ireland which accrue from such co-operation.  By sharing information on sex offenders we increase the protection afforded to the public, particularly children, and aid the investigation of sexual offences." 

Minister Goggins said: "This is a particularly good demonstration of the commitment by both police services, and indeed both Governments, to tackle the threat from sex offenders to all the people of Ireland.  We will continue to look for further ways to improve our cooperation and to harmonise, where possible, the legislative requirements for sex offender notification."  

The Ministers also discussed the recent dissident terrorist attacks, and welcomed the ongoing co-operation between the law enforcement agencies North and South to combat this threat.

Minister Goggins said:  "The PSNI and Garda continue to do an excellent job in frustrating the actions of dissident republicans and will continue to work together to crack down on the activities of these groups.  There is no room for complacency as clearly dissident republicans are intent on killing police officers.  Both police services remain determined to pursue such individuals both for their acts of terrorism and the criminality in which they are so deeply involved." 

Minister Ahern stated: "These people have no mandate, no support and, judging by their recent cowardly attacks on members of the PSNI, not a shred of decency.  We will continue to act in the closest co-operation to counter their activities."

7 October 2008 

Note for Editors: 

Under the new Agreement, the information to be shared will relate to persons who are subject to the notification requirements of the Irish Sex Offenders Act 2001 and the UK Sexual Offences Act 2003 and will be shared for the purposes of assisting in (a) the protection of the public from the risks posed by sex offenders and (b) the investigation of serious sexual offences.  

Information exchanged under the agreement will be used for:

-        the prevention and detection of crime of a sexual nature and the prosecution of offenders;
-        improved communication channels between an Garda Síochána and the PSNI; and
-        the enhancement of child protection on the island of Ireland.  

The agreement formalises the exchange of information which has always taken place and sets out procedures under which this will now take place.  The information will be exchanged in accordance with data protection legislation in force in both parts of Ireland.

The agreement is an example of the co-operation taking place under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Irish and British Governments in November, 2006 on the sharing between the Gardaí and British police forces, including the PSNI, of information on sex offenders, and under the Intergovernmental Agreement on North/South Criminal Justice Co-operation signed in July 2005.