The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Michael McDowell T.D., today announced that, following a public procurement exercise, the Director General of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Commissioner of the Garda Síochana have signed a contract with an international consortium led by Accenture, to design and implement a new integrated electronic fingerprint system (AFIS) for the Garda Síochana and the Irish immigration service.

This system, which will be delivered in phases, will take up to 18 months to complete with work commencing immediately. Local biometrics company Daon, and Motorola will support Accenture in the delivery of this new biometric system.

The first phase will involve the replacement of the existing fingerprint system used by the Garda Technical Bureau and the enhancement of the present manual fingerprinting system for asylum seekers in the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC). Subsequent phases will see, amongst other things, an electronic fingerprint capture, matching and storage capability introduced for non-EEA nationals on registration with the immigration authorities.

The Tánaiste inspected some of the equipment to be deployed during this project during a visit to the headquarters of the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in Burgh Quay, Dublin today.

During his visit to the Burgh Quay offices and in welcoming the signature of the contract, the Tánaiste said, "Enhanced biometric technology is a key element in assisting the Garda and immigration authorities to carry out their work effectively in areas such as crime detection, border management and identity validation generally.

The signing of this contract is further proof of this Government's commitment to providing both An Garda Síochana and the immigration service with the most up to date technology to assist in the delivery of an effective service to the State, its citizens and the wider community."

Commenting on the strategic role that this new system will play in relation to immigration and border management, the Tánaiste went on to say "Since INIS was established in 2005, it has embarked on a series of measures to improve services across the whole spectrum of its activities and to strengthen the effectiveness of the immigration system. Allowing fingerprint data of migrants to be taken (which is already a requirement laid down by law) electronically will significantly enhance the integrity of our immigration system and allow the GNIB, in particular, to more rapidly detect and deal with cases of identity abuse.

The deployment of this system together with other ongoing IT development projects in the visa and immigration system coupled with the recently published Scheme for a comprehensive new Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will see Ireland's immigration system being on par with the best models available."

The AFIS project is being managed by the Garda Síochana and the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform\INIS and the final phase is expected to be completed in mid 2008. The project will cost up to 18m Euro, which includes the eighteen month development and rollout phase and ongoing support of the system over its first three years.

Strong governance arrangements are in place for the project at senior management level in the Garda Síochana and Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform/INIS to oversee its delivery in terms of budgets, timescales and project requirements generally.

22 November 2006


Note for Editors

The project includes the following:

The legal basis for the taking of fingerprints of asylum seekers and non-EEA nationals in registration is already provided for in a combination of national and EU law.

The consortium building this system is led by Accenture based in the IFSC in Dublin, and employing over 1,600 people between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

Accenture is supported by the Irish company Daon Biometric Systems and Motorola. The consortium members count the US Department of Homeland Security, the UK's Home Office and police forces across Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa amongst their clients. In Ireland, Accenture has worked with the Garda Síochana on the development and enhancement of both the PULSE and GNIB systems.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is an executive office within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform with responsibility for asylum, immigration and citizenship.