Justice

Cross-Border Conference on Organised Crime

Left to right: Peter May DOJNI, Stephen Martin DCC PSNI, Minister Charlie Flanagan TD and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD has taken the opportunity presented by the 16th annual Cross-Border Conference on Organised Crime to recommit the Irish Government to “ensuring North/South 
co-operation on all criminal justice matters”.

Speaking in a statement before the conference, Minister Flanagan said that he was “keenly aware of the threat posed by criminals who seek to exploit the border” and called the conference an “important forum for key stakeholders on both sides of the border to work together, exchange information and ultimately ensure that we effectively protect the safety of the people on this island”.

Under the title of “Shared Problems, Shared Solutions”, the conference was held at Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, County Down. Responsibility for its organisation has alternated every year since the conference was first held in 2003 and this year it was the turn of the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland to bring together An Garda Síochána, Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Crime Agency, Revenue Commissioners, HM Revenue and Customs and more government departments from both jurisdictions. The conference was opened on 7 November 2018, lasting two days with an agenda including issues such as human trafficking, modern slavery and VAT fraud.

Peter May, the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland said: “Against a backdrop of rapid change, new technologies and the spread of globalisation, this conference provides an important space for law enforcement and government on the island of Ireland to explore how best to enhance and strengthen the ways in which we work collaboratively.” He also paid tribute to the “many operational successes of the cross border Joint Agency Task Force”.

In his speech opening the conference, Minister Flanagan spoke of the “huge dividend from the peace process and the many social, political and economic advantages that have derived over the 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed” and said that it was “vital that we keep working to ensure these benefits are not compromised or diminished. He also pointed to the joint research conducted by An Garda Síochána and the PSNI that found that 43 per cent of organised crime gangs in the North have cross-border dimensions.

The new Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, Stephen Martin picked up on this point, saying that it was “incumbent on the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána to continue working together… to ensure we share skills, knowledge and resources to keep people safe on both sides of the border”.

Martin’s predecessor as Deputy Chief Constable, Drew Harris, attending in his new capacity as Garda Commissioner, called the conference “a real demonstration of the strong working relationship” between the Gardaí and the PSNI and said that Brexit and evolving criminality have meant that such “effective partnerships will be even more critical in providing a safe and secure society for everyone on the island of Ireland”.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD has taken the opportunity presented by the 16th annual Cross-Border Conference on Organised Crime to recommit the Irish Government to “ensuring North/South 
co-operation on all criminal justice matters”.

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