The Government is planning to open formal negotiations with the United Arab Emirates on new extradition measures aimed at tackling organised crime.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will today seek Cabinet approval to open negotiations on new extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties.
The Irish Times previously reported that senior Garda officers are concerned at the failed efforts to extradite Dublin criminals from places such as Dubai, including individuals who were named by the Irish and American authorities as being senior figures in the Kinahan cartel.
The move to open formal extradition negotiations follows a recent meeting between Ms McEntee and her UAE counterpart, minister for justice Abdullah Bin Sultan Awad Al Nuaimi.
It also follows high-level engagement between Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and the UAE authorities, including his visit to Dubai in recent weeks to meet with Lieut Gen Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri.
The Minister will tell Cabinet that bilateral treaties between Ireland and the UAE on mutual legal assistance and extradition would be of significant support in tackling organised crime and transnational drug trafficking gangs.
She will also tell the Cabinet meeting that it is important that criminals see there can be no hiding place from the law.
A number of other EU member states already have bilateral mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties in place with the UAE. On the basis of their experiences, it is understood bilateral co-operation on existing individual cases can continue on a reciprocal basis while the treaties are being negotiated.
It comes as Ms McEntee faces a motion of confidence in the Dáil on Tuesday afternoon after Sinn Féin claimed the Minister and the Garda Commissioner were not prepared for the recent scenes of violence in Dublin.
Ms McEntee is expected to win the vote comfortably with the additional support of a number of Independent TDs who have indicated they will either abstain or vote with the Government.
The debate and vote will be held at 3.50pm on Tuesday and will finish before 6.30pm.
The motion has been tabled by Sinn Féin in light of the looting and violence which followed an attack on young schoolchildren in Dublin city centre last month.
The Government has dismissed the motion as a “stunt” but Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party was “forced to put down a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Justice because this Government is not listening”.
Ministers will also today be given a significant update on the planned referendum on gender equality and removing a constitutional reference to a woman’s place being in the home. Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman will bring the wording for next year’s referendum to Cabinet.
It is understood there will be two questions, one on the removal of the reference to a women’s place in the home which will also include a recognition of care, and the second on broadening the definition of family.
Separately, Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney will bring details to Government today of a €250 million grants scheme for small and medium businesses.
Under the Increased Cost of Business scheme (ICOB), grants will reach 95 per cent of rateable businesses totalling 143,000 businesses across the country. The scheme was first announced as part of Budget 2024, and is designed to help businesses struggling with higher costs.
Mr Coveney will outline details of the grant, which will be a one off payment rather than a rates rebate. The rates system has been used, however, to identify qualifying business in order to keep administration of the grants to a minimum for businesses.
Businesses that paid up to €10,000 in rates will receive a payment equivalent to a 50 per cent return. Businesses who paid between €10,000-€30,000 will receive a once-off payment of €5,000 each.
The total budget for the scheme will be €257 million and the payments will be made in the new year.
Meanwhile, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris bring a memo to Cabinet on new rules for student visas. This will see a new international education mark come into effect early in the new year.
This is effectively a quality assurance measure for all English language schools. Schools that do not pass the statutory regulatory regime will not be assigned the mark and will not be eligible to recruit international students.
English language students will not be eligible for a visa unless attending a school with the international education mark. This will come into effect in June 2025.
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