Justice Ministers reinforce partnership working to target organised crime

30 September 2015

The Ministers were speaking at the thirteenth Annual Cross Border Seminar on Organised Crime held in Sligo.

In their opening remarks both Ministers welcomed the ongoing co-operation between Departments and agencies from both jurisdictions and the immeasurable contribution that such co-operation makes in tackling criminality.

David Ford said: “Organised Crime remains a major challenge to law enforcement agencies, and indeed Governments, north and south of the border. This annual conference is an opportunity to recognise the successes and to focus on current and future challenges. It comes at a time when the Stormont talks give politicians an opportunity to see what they can do to help develop a culture of lawfulness and respect for the rule of law. That can only help all those involved in law enforcement.

“This has been a very significant year in the fight against organised crime. In May the National Crime Agency became fully operational in Northern Ireland. The additional resources and expertise is already paying dividends with, for example, a recent joint PSNI and NCA operation leading to the arrest of 25 people involved in child sexual exploitation.”

Continuing, Minister Ford said: “One of the elements at the talks is paramilitary involvement in organised crime. As Justice Minister, and Chair of the Organised Crime Taskforce in the north, I can assure the public that we are committed to bringing all those involved in such crimes before the courts. The dedicated funding recently announced by the Westminster Government, however, will assist us in carrying out this vital work. The possibilities for this will be discussed at the Seminar, as will work on a revised, refreshed Cross Border Policing Strategy. It will build on the working relationships already in place to help us tackle all forms of cross border crime."

Concluding, he said: “There has been considerable progress throughout the year, but we all recognise that there is still more to do. We need to continue our work and get the message across about the dangers of organised crime. These criminals are profiting because of public demand for their goods and services. I would urge everyone to think about the impact these groups have on our society, to reject what they offer and report what they know.”

Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “Each year, this event plays a significant part in enhancing the response to cross border organised crime. The Seminar brings together key personnel from the Departments and agencies in both jurisdictions. It provides a forum through which cross border organised crime threats can be met through the promotion and deployment of effective and efficient cooperation initiatives to better meet the challenges that we face on a daily basis.”

The Minister went on to say: “In reinforcing our strategic partnerships to target cross border organised crime we are working better to protect our citizens and uphold the rule of law in this challenging environment.”

The Minister also said: “This year's Seminar is timely given the understandable public concern about the well-established links between organised crime and paramilitarism. One message will be clear from the Seminar: organised crime, whatever the background of those who commit it and whatever its manifestations, will continue to be tackled head on.”