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Saturday 23 March 2019

Fingertip security to focus on new residents

Shane Hickey and Brian Hutton

NON-nationals from outside Europe coming to live in Ireland will be finger-printed as part of new security measures to be introduced in the coming months.

The introduction of the new finger-printing system will be in addition to existing ID cards.

Yesterday, justice minister Brian Lenihan said the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) will be used by immigration authorities, including the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

It will apply to all non-nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) -- the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway -- who are registering to live here. The fingerprints will be put on their registration cards. Tourists will continue to get a stamp on their passports.

"When a person is not a citizen of Ireland or another EU state, they have permission to reside here, but it is important that the state can exercise some degree of control in these areas," said Mr Lenihan.

"Unfortunately, in some cases, there are back-door methods used to gain access to our country."

New Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, said that the AFIS was speeding up ongoing investigations.

"I have been briefed by the [Garda] technical bureau, that hits, that is matches between the prints taken and the prints on the system, have increased by up to 50pc," he said.


The AFIS captures and stores palm prints, as well as the traditional 10 fingerprints, making it easier for forensic experts to match smaller marks taken from crime scenes.

The technology has been operating at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park since October 22, when it replaced the force's previous 10-year-old system.

It has cost the taxpayer €7m so far but the figure will rise, with a further roll-out next year.

Commissioner Murphy insisted the public money will be well-spent by producing increased detection rates for crime scene evidence.

"One of the features of this system will be the ability to have electronic equipment out in the different divisions and the speedy passing of that data to the central database for checking," he said.

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