Cross-border security to continue regardless of politics in North, Garda Commissioner says

Uncertainty over when a new Executive will be formed in the wake of Thursday’s Assembly election

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said that cross-border cooperation on security will continue regardless of the political situation in Northern Ireland.

He also said the security of Irish Government Ministers is kept under "constant review" when asked about a security alert during a visit to Belfast by Simon Coveney in March.

There is uncertainty over when a new Northern Ireland Executive will be formed in the wake of Thursday's Stormont Assembly election.

The DUP has refused to commit to his party taking the Deputy First Minister role should Sinn Féin emerge as the largest party.

Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson has also said his party will not enter a future Executive unless the British government takes action to address Unionist concerns about the Northern Ireland protocol.

The protocol is part of the EU-UK Brexit withdrawal agreement which guarantees a special post-Brexit trading status for the North to avoid a hard Border in Ireland.

At a press conference in Dublin, Mr Harris was asked how important a stable government in the North is to cross-border policing and security.

He declined to comment on the stability of a future Executive in the North.

But he added: "I would wish to assure people we do work very closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“Their mandate and our mandate around keeping people safe, policing cooperation, tackling organised crime groups, tackling terrorist groups, and tackling local crime – that continues,” he said.

“All of those contacts, exchange of information and indeed the exchange of evidence that happens and that’s just an ongoing day-to-day piece of our work.”

Security alert

In March Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was evacuated from a peace event due to a security alert.

A suspect device, which transpired to be a hoax, was found in a car park at the venue where Mr Coveney was delivering a speech.

Mr Harris declined to get into specifics when asked if there were now additional security measures in place for Irish ministers.

He said: “All these matters are kept under ongoing review depending on the context and the information that we receive.

“The security of the ministers is my responsibility, and we and I take that very seriously. It’s a matter which is subject top ongoing, constant review.”

Mr Harris was speaking after he attended a ceremony to mark the official opening of a new Garda station at Dublin Airport.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

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