- · Meets UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd bilaterally to discuss ongoing issues of mutual concern including information sharing, police cooperation and the common travel area.
- · Discusses latest developments in relation to transferring unaccompanied minors previously living in Calais with French Minister Bruno Le Roux and discusses child protection issues with the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice & Equality Frances Fitzgerald met EU counterparts in Valletta on Thursday and Friday to steer EU-wide work on tackling terrorist financing, security and equip the EU to address any future challenges posed by migration.
Tackling Terrorist Financing
As part of the European Union’s commitment to strengthen the fight against terrorism EU Ministers held intensive discussions on two new proposals against terrorist financing.
The first proposal will strengthen member states’ laws against money-laundering across a wide range of criminal activity.
The Tánaiste said. “Ireland has a comprehensive set of tough laws on money-laundering and terrorist financing, as seen recently by the results of the evaluation of Ireland carried out by the Financial Action Task Force. This evaluation particularly highlighted the area of International criminal cooperation for positive mention. Ireland remains open to other joint EU action to interrupt and choke-off terrorism financing. The security of our people compels us to find and use the best ways to do this.”
The second proposal, on counter-terrorism, aims to ensure that freezing and confiscation orders issued by one member state are enforced quickly in others. The Tánaiste said that domestically Ireland has found that freezing and confiscation measures are highly effective tools for countering terrorism and serious crime.
“Criminals and other funders of terrorism must get the message. Europe will end their activities and deprive them of their illicit profits. There must not be any safe port for assets derived from criminal activities.”
Ministers also held discussions on increasing the security of the Union through better use of information systems. The Tánaiste said “access to relevant information quickly is a vital tool in the fight against crime and terrorism. In an age of increasing mobility we need to create interoperable pan-European systems that will allow our law enforcement agencies access to information on the spot, while protecting our citizens’ right to data privacy. I am currently working to ensure that Ireland is connected to all relevant databases. For example, in November Dublin airport connected directly to Interpol’s Lost and Stolen Travel Documents Database and since then over 700,000 instant document checks have been performed by our Immigration Control Officers.”
The Tánaiste reaffirmed the principle of solidarity, and reminded all that frontline Member States still need ongoing help. The Tánaiste recently visited the migration camps in Greece and saw firsthand the conditions there. She said Ireland has shown commitment to EU efforts, including by voluntarily agreeing to accept up to 4,000 persons under Relocation and Resettlement programmes. In addition Irish Naval Service vessels in the Mediterranean Sea have saved over 15,000 people in humanitarian search and rescue missions and Ireland continues to support the European Asylum Support Office with the deployment of Irish casework experts to assist the agency on the ground in Greece.
Commenting on the discussions, the Tánaiste said that “EU asylum and immigration systems must function well if they are to both ensure we can offer protection to those who need and deter illegal flows. This is not something that can be achieved by any one measure. We must offer more and better opportunities for legal pathways to Europe. We must continue to engage in resettlement programmes and we need the establishment and implementation of Partnership Agreements with key third countries.
Ministers were updated on the outcomes of a 2 day international conference organised by Missing Children Europe which focused on finding ways to protect unaccompanied minors in the context of mass migration. The Tánaiste also met with the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty to discuss developing child protection policies to help prevent children from disappearing in the wider migration context.
Speaking about this the Tánaiste said that “Ireland has reached out to France in relation to unaccompanied minors previously living in Calais and is committed to playing its part in finding the right way to ensure that the best interests of the child are always respected within EU migration and asylum policies.”