In the coming weeks, new anti-terror laws will be introduced in Ireland to help combat the threat posed by radicalized Europeans returning home from fighting in Iraq and Syria. A portion of the new law will include 10-year jail sentences for recruiting, training or promoting “terrorist acts or terrorism.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan discussed the statute guidelines with other EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. This new legislation will bring Ireland into line with the majority of EU states, which have adopted anti-terror laws already.
Flanagan said that, though Europe as a collective has a role to play against terrorism, individual governments do as well, and he has been in daily contact with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald regarding terror threats.
“There currently exists a power for the revocation of citizenship,” said Flanagan, which could mean the withdrawal of passports in certain circumstances.
“Terrorism as we know is adaptable; it doesn’t remain static. Similarly our laws need also to adapt and change,” the minister said. “I would expect this new legislation to be on the statute books within a period of weeks.”
Though the terror threat to Ireland is low, Flanagan stressed that it is important to remain alert, as the threat to Europe at large is “real and serious” in the wake of the recent Paris attacks.
During the meeting the EU countries agreed to coordinate a response to the threat including sharing information and data.
Flanagan said he is anxious to see progress toward the sharing of information about European flights as well, and to see Irish Members of European Parliament take a leading part in this.
He urged the Irish members of the European Parliament to support a move to record and retain the data of any air passenger entering or leaving the EU (including EU citizens).
Head of the EU’s foreign service Federica Mogherini confirmed that the ministers agreed to coordinate more actively in sharing intelligence – not just between themselves, but with countries in North Africa, Turkey, the Mediterranean and Asia with substantial Muslim populations.
Additionally, Flanagan said it is important to improve relations with the Ireland’s Muslim population, and that the response to terror tragedy should not be security-based alone.
A recent CNN study has revealed that a significant number of Muslim youths in Ireland have been traveling to Syria to train and fight with Jihadist extremists. These young Muslims feel marginalized and excluded from Ireland’s mainstream.
“A policy of integration through education [and] culture is very important to ensure communities are very much involved in Irish society”, he said.
Ireland should work on fostering links between “friendly Arab states” that have condemned terror as well, he said.
The foreign ministers had a meeting with the EU anti-terrorism coordinator and, for the first time, held discussions on matters of terror with the League of Arab Nations.
“We need to work on developing an alliance, a dialogue with these countries and avoid any perception of a clash. We all face the same threat, inside the EU and outside,” Mogherini said.
She said that anti-terror coordinators will be appointed in EU embassies and these will act as professional liaisons “with security figures in the countries where we have delegations, concentrating mainly on capacity-building and co-operating at the information level.”