Minister Flanagan announces moves to strengthen border security

  • Passenger Information System to go live
  • Justice Minister addresses 46th INTERPOL European Regional Conference

16 May 2018

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, will today (Wednesday) announce a start date of May 25th for the Irish Passenger Information Unit, the body which will receive Passenger Name Recognition (PNR) data from carriers and exchange data and processing results with other EU States and with Europol.

Addressing the 46th INTERPOL European Regional Conference, which this week is taking place in Dublin for the first time, the Minister will say of the move: “The introduction of PNR will greatly assist in strengthening the integrity of the EU’s borders, help to thwart serious criminals and terrorist and overall enhance public safety.”

Under the new Directive, air carriers are obliged to provide Member State's authorities with the PNR data for flights entering or departing from the EU. Calling the establishment of the unit in Ireland ‘an important initiative’ Minister Flanagan will say: “This initiative is part of a series of initiatives enabled by technology including INTERPOL’s Lost and Stolen Travel Documents Database. Our authorities have had the benefit of an automated connection to this Database since November 2016 that facilitates the automated checking of travel documents.”

Minister Flanagan will add: “PNR data is travel related information made available by air carriers. It has obvious potential value as an information resource to police and law enforcement services in the context of investigating and preventing serious crime, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking and international sex tourism. It also serves as an invaluable support in combating international terrorism.”

In the speech which he will deliver to open the conference, the Minister will extend a special welcome to the delegates: “There is a saying ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ The work of INTERPOL over the past almost 100 years epitomises the value of police services across the world working together.

Countering terrorism is not a new phenomenon for many countries. Indeed, it is an unfortunate reality because of the history of this island, that dealing with terrorism is not a new challenge here and members of An Garda Síochána are deserving of praise for the role that they have played in dealing with the problem of terrorism on this island down through the decades.

The current global terrorism threat is dynamic and constantly evolving, and we too must continue to evolve to meet the challenges it presents. Any actions that we can take to protect our democratic freedoms by stopping those who seek to attack our freedoms and our way of life must remain a priority for us.”


Notes for Editors

In April 2016, the Council and European Parliament adopted a Directive on the use of PNR for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. Under it, each Member State is required to set up a Passenger Information Unit (PIU) with the resources necessary for it to fulfil its functions.

The Directive establishes that PNR data collected may only be processed for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. It also provides important safeguards to protect the rights of law abiding citizens.

There are a number of key uses of the data from a law enforcement perspective including:


  • It can be checked against various watch lists to prevent known targets entering the State or flagging their transit for appropriate action when they arrive / leave. This provides for ‘known’ suspects.
  • It can be configured to automatically detect suspicious / unusual / irregular patterns or activity. This targeting is done by creating ‘flags’ on the system and using the system to analyse the data. Consequently, for example, an immigration smuggling-ring could be ‘flagged’ automatically by the system, with, for example, patterns of travel of individuals or suspicious activity of a travel agency identified by the software. This provides for ‘unknown’ individuals to be highlighted.

Safeguards in the PNR ensure that the data collected shall in no circumstances be based on a person’s race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religion or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health, sexual life or sexual orientation.

Charlie Flanagan TD

Charlie Flanagan TD

Charlie Flanagan TD is Minister for Justice and Equality.



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Updated: 16 May 2018

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