Minister warns ‘substantial terrorist threat’ remains

Flanagan seeks Cabinet approval for renewal of Act to grant special powers to Garda

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told Ministers there was a substantial and continuing threat from republican dissident groups in particular. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told Ministers there was a substantial and continuing threat from republican dissident groups in particular. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan warned the Cabinet yesterday that there remained a “substantial threat from terrorist activity”, according to the Government’s official spokesman.

Mr Flanagan was seeking Cabinet approval for the renewal of the Offences Against the State and the Criminal Justice Act which grant special powers to the Garda but must be renewed every year.

He told Ministers there was a substantial and continuing threat from republican dissident groups in particular.

Mr Flanagan told his colleagues that over the past 12 months, the Paramilitary Crime Task Force of the Police Service of Northern Ireland had carried out more than 200 searches resulting in more than 50 arrests.

Paramilitary groups were also involved in serious criminality and are linked inextricably to organised crime gangs, he told the Cabinet.

International threats

A statement from Government Buildings on Tuesday night said the Criminal Justice Amendment Act of 2009 “is a key element of the State’s anti-terrorism law, which is directed at both domestic and international threats”.

The special powers Acts are “used frequently and are considered essential by the Garda authorities in the current circumstances of threat. The purpose of the provision is to guard against the intimidation of jurors/potential jurors or jury tampering in particularly serious cases”.

The Offences Against the State Act was first introduced in 1939 and confers special powers on the security services to protect the State from “subversion”. It has been used principally against the IRA and dissident groups, though special powers legislation has also been used against criminal gangs. It provides that some trials can take place in the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Under the legislation, the Minister must bring a report on the Act to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Garda authorities are in the process of compiling the necessary information for the reports, Government Buildings said.

Mr Flanagan also got approval to put the necessary resolutions, which must be passed by both houses by June 30th, to the Dáil and Seanad.