EU attacks Ireland for IT failures in the war on terror
Ireland has been criticised by the European Commission over its failure to adopt a state-of-the-art EU border control IT system seen as a vital weapon in the fight against international terrorism.
The commission has initiated infringement proceedings which could result in Ireland been hauled before the European Court of Justice and fined for failing to adopt the Schengen Information System, known as SIS II.
Plans to join the system, which allows for the automated exchange of information between national border control authorities, customs and police forces in different jurisdictions, were shelved in 2009 due to the economic crisis.
The decision has left Ireland as one of only two EU nations not signed up to the system.
The other, Cyprus, has not joined for political reasons.
It is the second time in less than a year that Ireland has been criticised by Europe for failing to adopt new information sharing infrastructure used to combat terrorism and international organised crime.
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Although Ireland is not within the Schengen Area - a group of 26 European countries where passport and other types of controls have been abolished at mutual borders - it is authorised to join the IT system.
A contract to integrate Garda systems with SIS II was signed last December, but it is expected to take up to 24 months to implement.
The signing of the contract did not stop the commission from issuing infringement proceedings in April over the failure to adopt SIS II.
In a briefing document for new Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Department of Justice officials admitted the move by the commission "increases the pressure to come into compliance" as soon as possible.
Separate infringement proceedings were launched last September over Ireland's failure to invest in systems allowing the EU-wide sharing of DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data.
A reasoned opinion, the second stage in the infringement process, was issued in May.
The next stage in the process, should the Government fail to appease the commission, would be a referral to the European Court.
The Department of Justice said action is being taken by gardaí, Forensic Science Ireland and the Department of Transport to enable Ireland's participation in the information sharing systems by the end of the year.