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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said he would work with a Sinn Féin justice minister "to provide for the security of the country".

Mr Harris was speaking after Sinn Féin recorded the highest number of first preference votes in the General Election, making it a likely coalition partner in the next government.

Mr Harris's father, Alwyn Harris, was murdered by an IRA car bomb in 1989 while on sick leave as an RUC superintendent.

The bomb exploded under the family car as Alwyn Harris and his wife drove to a Sunday church service. Mr Harris died while his wife survived the blast.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Commissioner Harris said: "I'm here to protect democracy and to keep people safe. So whatever minister we have I'm sure we'll have a positive working relationship."

Separately, Mr Harris said he favours a "backdoor" security "key" for iPhones to help fight crime.

"If there was a key that could be used by law enforcement so that we could get to data and evidence of crime, that would be very useful to us," he said.

The issue of a "backdoor" security key is a battleground between governments, police forces, privacy advocates and technology companies.

Firms such as Apple say that to weaken encryption on iPhones and iMessage would ultimately lead to weaker security for everyone and could give criminals an upper hand.

US and UK authorities have publicly clashed with Apple and other companies over the issue, with a string of terrorist cases providing flashpoints in recent times.

Asked if he favoured legislation requiring the handing over of digital passwords in criminal investigations, Mr Harris said "it should be part" of Garda resources in its efforts to fight crime.

"I think in certain cases around very serious crime such as the possession of child abuse images, or other serious offences, yes, that should be a power that is open to us, and it should therefore then be part of our ability to search for evidence," he said.

Irish Independent