Dr Farry was responding to the UK Government’s publication of its proposals relating to future partnership with the EU regarding security, law enforcement and criminal justice. He added given threats from organised crime and terrorism locally, this should be a crucial area for ongoing discussion.
“It should be acknowledged the UK Government is proposing a deeper level of ongoing co-operation in these areas than any other aspect of Brexit so far. This reflects the absolute centrality of protecting the public from an ever-growing range of threats transnational in nature. No state can afford to go it alone in addressing them. It is vital to accept the reality of our interdependence and to fully embed co-operation.
“But while the UK will seek a level of co-operation beyond any other third party arrangement at present, even a full partnership with the various mechanisms within the EU will not be a proper substitute for full membership and participation within them. There will be complications in terms of the equivalent domestic legislation in other EU countries, data sharing, and the need for jurisdiction of an arbitration mechanism if the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice is not to apply.
“These matters must be of particular concern to us in Northern Ireland given our ongoing threats from organised crime and terrorism. There is a need to ensure co-operation with the criminal justice agencies here and the Republic, which have developed so well over recent years, can be protected and enhanced. The last thing we need is for gaps to open up to be exploited.”