1st December, 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald T.D. today announced that she has secured additional capital funding of €4million for 2016 to allow Ireland to participate in the Schengen Information System (SIS II), a centralised secure database used by European countries for maintaining information (alerts) related to border security and law enforcement.
Announcing the funding, the Minister said “In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, I am determined to press ahead with the necessary steps to allow Ireland to participate fully in the Schengen Information System (SIS II) as quickly as possible. Ireland has been a strong supporter of Schengen since our application to join its non-border aspects was approved in 2002 but due to the economic situation which began in late 2008 and has prevailed up until very recently, plans to develop the infrastructure to allow us to participate in SIS II had unfortunately to be put on hold. I am pleased that I have secured the necessary funding to reactivate those plans.”
The Minister emphasised however, that while SIS would provide a more efficient way of sharing information, An Garda Síochána already makes full use of the range of information sharing means available to them, including Interpol, Europol and especially bi-lateral information exchange.
The Minister said that while the total timeframe to implement the necessary systems and structures in An Garda Síochána to support the integration with SIS II would be 18-24 months, the initial phases, allowing Ireland to be in a position to receive and broadcast requests to and from the central SIS system, would be achievable within 6 months of starting the project of implementation (subject to EU readiness to facilitate testing and connection).
Notes to Editors:
The Schengen Information System is a centralised secure database used by European countries for maintaining information (alerts) related to border security and law enforcement. SIS has been operational for 18 years and is a critical component of the Schengen free movement area that has been operating across most of Europe during this period.
The 2nd generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) is a state-of-the-art IT system which consists of three components: a central system, Member States' national systems, and a communication infrastructure between the central and national systems. The integration of SIS II into national systems means that automatic alerts are generated in real-time in instances where, for example, a Garda member encounters a person who is wanted or has been involved in a serious crime in another jurisdiction. SIS also generates alerts on missing persons (in particular children), as well as information on certain types of property, such as banknotes, cars, vans, firearms and identity documents that may have been stolen, misappropriated or lost. In general, it allows for an easy and automated exchange of information between national border control authorities, customs and police authorities in different jurisdictions.
In all, 32 countries have applied to participate in Schengen. Of these 29 are operational via a national connection to SIS II. Of those 29 states, 26 are implementing the system in full for both border control and police cooperation. The other 3 states, Bulgaria, Romania, and the UK, are currently only participating in the law enforcement cooperation aspects. In principle, Ireland's Schengen arrangements are broadly in line with the UK.