Overview: The United States and Ireland worked reasonably well in bilateral and regional counterterrorism, law enforcement, and information sharing efforts. An Garda Síochána (the local and national police service of Ireland, referred to as Garda in this report) has comprehensive law enforcement, immigration, investigative, intelligence, and counterterrorism responsibilities.
In 2016, dissident republican groups, sometimes referred to as criminal terrorist groups by the Irish Department of Justice, perpetrated acts of violence in neighboring Northern Ireland. Authorities traced some violent acts committed in Northern Ireland by members of dissident groups to support to persons living in Ireland. Attacks were often directed at Northern Ireland's law enforcement personnel and security structures to disrupt ongoing post-peace process community rehabilitation efforts. Irish authorities worked to address these legacy issues stemming from "The Troubles" and were actively involved in dealing with transnational terrorism issues. Major Garda successes in disrupting the activities of such groups and infighting between dissident factions appeared to have diminished the threat of domestic terrorism.
Ireland is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Criminal Justice Act of 2015 created three offenses relating to preparatory terrorist activities: public provocation to commit a terrorist offense, recruitment, and training. The legislative bill transposed into Irish law a European Union (EU) Council Framework Decision on counterterrorism. The Act specifically recognizes that terrorist-linked activities may be committed electronically. Upon conviction, such offenses would carry prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated their capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The Garda Special Branch provides specialized law enforcement capability and has primary responsibility for counterterrorism response, with the military performing specific functions when requested by the civil authorities. The Irish Defense Ministry's 2015 "White Paper on Defense" outlines Ireland's defense policy framework for the next decade, aimed at addressing increased security challenges. It featured a streamlined response to terrorism with the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning reviewing terrorism threat assessments received from Garda.
Irish law provides for a non-jury Special Criminal Court (SCC) when the Director of Public Prosecutions certifies a case to be beyond the capabilities of an ordinary court.
No successful terrorist attacks occurred in 2016. Nevertheless, the bomb squad mobilized 86 times due to possible improvised explosive device (IED) incidents, 14 of which involved viable IEDs that Irish Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians rendered safe. Statistics for 2016 mark a 39 percent mobilization decrease and a 65 percent reduction in viable IEDs over the prior year.
Ireland worked closely with the United Kingdom (UK) on border security, including sharing biographic and biometric information. The Irish Naturalization and Immigration Services in conjunction with Dublin Airport Authority uses automated border control gates for some flights at Dublin Airport. These electronic gates allow certain categories of arriving passengers holding a passport with an electronic chip, which contains the holder's facial image, to clear immigration controls through electronic self-service means. The Government of Ireland was active in highlighting the need to share Passenger Name Records (PNR) on EU flights. Ireland is working to implement the EU Directive on the processing of PNR data, which will require the establishment of relevant domestic legislation that outlines the measures to establish and operate a PNR processing system.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Ireland is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and its financial intelligence unit, the Bureau of Fraud Investigation, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Over the past five years, Ireland has made significant improvements to improve regulations on supervision of the financial sector and non-financial service providers. Ireland has yet to transpose the fourth EU Money Laundering Directive into Irish law.
In 2016, law enforcement authorities continued to monitor non-profit organizations for the purpose of monitoring breaches of criminal law; however, Ireland had still not fully implemented the Charities Act of 2009, which regulates the activities of charities and non-profit organizations.
The July 2016 enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2016 provides Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) officers with the power to seize property for 24 hours that they suspect to be the proceeds of crime. The Chief Bureau Officer can authorize its detention for a further 21 days. This allows CAB to prepare an application to the High Court for an interim restraining order and prevent the disposal or dissipation of the property in the meantime.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Ireland's efforts to counter violent extremism focused on integrating minority groups and new arrivals into Irish society. These measures included providing social benefits, language training, health care, and the proactive advocacy work of an Ombudsman's Office in the affairs of immigrants. The Garda Racial Intercultural and Diversity Office (GRIDO) coordinates, monitors, and advises on all aspects of policing in the area of ethnic and cultural diversity with a view towards building long-term trust with communities. Through this office, police officers are provided with special training to assist at-risk populations. GRIDO delivered anti-radicalization training to national police members in the context of Community Policing/Preventing Radicalization.
The Irish government pursued its countering violent extremism (CVE) strategy primarily through the Ethnic Liaison Officer program of the Garda. These officers liaise with representatives of the various minority communities in an area, and establish communication links with each community. They support integration by involving members of ethnic minority communities in Garda and community social events.
Ireland supports the United Nations Secretary-General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
International and Regional Cooperation: Ireland works closely with the UK in securing the Common Travel Area, an open borders area comprising Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The introduction of the British-Irish visa required the sharing of biometric and other information, and resulted in a more integrated system for checking travelers. Ireland actively participated in a range of meetings and actions at the Council of the European Union and the United Nations to address counterterrorism. In addition to counterterrorism capacity building overseas, Ireland also cooperated on counterterrorism efforts with Northern Ireland.