Ireland is “not immune” from the threat of Islamic terrorism

Gardaí have warned that Ireland is “not immune” from the threat of terrorism, but said that the possibility of an attack here remains unlikely.

In a statement following the terrorist incident at Manchester Arena, An Garda Síochana said that the threat level in Ireland remains unchanged.

“Ireland is a safe and secure environment,” the statement said. “While there is no specific information in relation to any threat to Ireland from international terrorism, An Garda Síochána does not consider that Ireland is immune from this threat.”

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in Manchester , which was carried out by a lone perpetrator.

Gardaí are continuing to monitor the level of threat in Ireland. “All appropriate measures will be taken commensurate with the prevailing threat environment,” the statement said.

“The threat level in this jurisdiction remains unchanged where an attack is possible but not likely.”

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said last month that gardaí need more training to deal with the changing face of terrorism.

“We are talking about training in terms of awareness in relation to the new reality – the need for vigilance,” she said.

She was speaking after rank-and-file gardaí said that there is no adequate plan in place in the event of an attack in Dublin Airport.


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Gender recognition certificate scheme may be expanded to children

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There have been 230 “gender recognition certificates” granted to people in less than two years — and now the Government is considering the expansion of the scheme to children.

Commenced in September 2015, the Gender Recognition Act provides for the preferred gender of a person to be fully recognised by the State for all purposes.

Dr Lydia Foy, a long term advocate who has lived as a woman since 1991, became the first person to be legally recognised by the Act.

An applicant who has reached 18 years of age can apply for a gender recognition certificate by way of self-determination. Where their birth was registered in the State, they may subsequently apply for a birth certificate in their preferred name and/or gender.

Teenagers between 16-18 have to apply to the courts through a parent or “next friend” for an exemption from the requirement to be over 18 years.

In that case the court application has to be accompanied by a certificate from the applicant’s treating endocrinologist or psychiatrist and also a certificate from an endocrinologist or psychiatrist who has no connection with the child.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said that provision was included so as to balance the rights of children with the need to protect their interests at a vulnerable age.

At present there is no provision in the Act for children under the age of 16 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

However, that could change. After the enactment of the legislation, Leo Varadkar wrote to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone asking her department to carry out research in the area of gender recognition for children to inform policy in the future.

Her department has been carrying out a consultation process with the relevant organisations on the issue.

Mr Varadkar said the original act had provided for a review of its operation.

“The review is due to begin in September 2017 and will include in its terms of reference the issue of gender recognition for children,” he said.

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Halawa sisters complain of delay in deciding if husbands can join them in Ireland

Omaima Halawa, who married in August 2015 in Istanbul, said in her affidavit her husband applied for a visa in October 2015. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Two sisters of Ibrahim Halawa – an Irish citizen who has been detained in Egypt without trial for almost four years – are suing the Minister for Justice over a delay of 18 months in deciding applications to have their husbands join them in Ireland.

Omaima and Somaia Halawa, both Irish citizens, have, along with their husbands – Mohamed Abdo Mahmoud Aly and Emadelin Mohamed Arab respectively – taken judicial review proceedings against the Minister in the High Court.

Both men are Egyptian nationals currently residing in Turkey.

Omaima Halawa said she and her husband are expecting their first child in August, but, despite having applied for a Join Spouse visa in October 2015, they have yet to receive a decision. The delay is “deeply distressing”, she said.

Michael Lynn SC, instructed by KOD Lyons Solicitors, for the sisters, with an address at Firhouse, Tallaght, and their husbands, secured leave on Monday from Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan to bring the case.

The judge returned the matter to June 19th.

In their proceedings, the sisters said they, along with their brother Ibrahim and another sister, were detained by Egyptian security forces in August 2013 when taking refuge in a mosque during protests against the military coup in Egypt.

The sisters were detained for three months before being released without charge but their brother remains detained in Egypt, they said.

The applicants claim the delay in deciding the Join Spouse visa applications is inordinate and unlawful and want orders compelling the Minister to decide them “forthwith”.

The delay breaches their legal rights as married couples and also breaches the Minister’s legal duties under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, it is claimed.

The sisters also allege unlawful discrimination against them as Irish citizens exercising their rights concerning free movement rights of EU citizens and their families.

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Ireland urged to resolve migrant dispute with Italy

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In Strasbourg The European Commission has urged the Government to resolve a dispute with the Italian authorities over the relocation of asylum seekers.

Ireland has yet to take any of the 700 asylum seekers it pledged to receive from Italy under a relocation scheme.

A standoff has developed between Irish and Italian authorities over the Government’s desire to carry out its own advance security checks on asylum seekers who are eligible for relocation under the EU programme.

Ireland agreed to take in 2,600 migrants from camps in Greece and Italy under the scheme, but while 459 have been relocated from Greece to date none have come from Italy.

Greek and Italian authorities carry out their own security checks on asylum seekers before declaring them eligible for relocation, but the Government, along with a number of other EU states, is demanding that it be allowed conduct its own security assessment, including interviews, for each individual before they are allowed travel to Ireland.

An agreement to that effect has been struck with Greece but not with Italy.

In its latest report on the relocation scheme, which was agreed at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 to ease pressure on southern EU states, the commission urges the Government and the Italian authorities to find “mutually acceptable solutions on additional security interviews in order for relocations to start as soon as possible”.

The report notes that Ireland, along with Estonia, has not relocated anybody from Italy yet due to “Italy’s strict policy regarding additional security interviews by [receiving] member states”.

The commission says member states wishing to carry out their own security checks, including Ireland, should “show flexibility and find mutually acceptable solutions” in order not to slow down the relocation process.

It is understood that in light of the dispute with Italian authorities, the Government will look to increase the numbers it is taking from Greece so as to make up the probable shortfall.

The Republic has so far taken in 459 asylum seekers from Greece, but while the rate of new arrivals has picked up in recent months, the State will struggle to meet its target of 2,622 from Greece and Italy by September, when the scheme ends.

Under a separate resettlement scheme, which is open to people already registered as refugees, mainly in Lebanon and Jordan, Ireland pledged to take in 1,040 individuals by the end of this year. The State is on track to fulfil that pledge ahead of schedule.

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Hungarian couple charged with trafficking woman to NI for prostitution

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A man and woman have appeared in court charged with trafficking a 29-year-old Hungarian woman into Northern Ireland and forcing her into prostitution.

The 29-year-old woman was rescued from her alleged captors during a police operation in Co Tyrone on Tuesday.

She is believed to have been trafficked into the region from Hungary about seven months ago, a court heard.

A member of the public had contacted police to say they were concerned for the wellbeing of a woman at a house in Dungannon, a PSNI officer told Strabane Magistrates’ Court.

When police arrived at the house they found signs the property was being used for prostitution, the court heard.

The bedroom doors in the house had locks on both the inside and outside, the officer said.

Appearing together in the dock, Hungarian nationals Gyorgy Orsos (32), and his girlfriend Evelyn Covacs (20), were both charged with human trafficking, kidnap and controlling prostitution for gain.

Mr Orsos was also charged with twice raping his alleged victim, damaging her mobile phone and stealing her bank cards.

The pair, who had been living at John Street in Dungannon, also faced charges of concealing the proceeds of crime and converting criminal property.

The district judge denied an application for bail, saying there was a risk the couple would not attend for trial or could commit further offences.

They were remanded in custody to appear before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court via video link on June 14th.

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A non-EU parent has a right to residency if their child is an EU citizen

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An EU court ruled on the case of a Venezuelan woman who entered the Netherlands as a visitor and had a child with a Dutch national.

A non-EU parent has a right to stay in the bloc if their child is an EU citizen, its top court said today, a ruling which could complicate Brexit talks.

The European Court of Justice said national courts must focus on the welfare of the child and the “risks which separation from the (non-EU parent) might entail for that child’s equilibrium.”

The European Union insists that the rights of more than three million EU citizens in Britain be among the very first issues settled in the Brexit divorce negotiations due to start shortly.

One of Britain’s main gripes in the lead-up to Brexit has been over the role of the European Court of Justice, especially on migration issues.

The court was ruling on the case of a Venezuelan woman who entered the Netherlands as a visitor but subsequently had a child with a Dutch national.

They moved to Germany but after the relationship failed in 2011, the woman, identified only by her last name, Chavez-Vilchez, said she became solely responsible for the welfare and upbringing of the child.

However, since she did not have a right of residence in the Netherlands, the authorities there rejected her application for social welfare and child benefit payments.

In a statement, the Luxembourg-based ECJ said it was up to the Dutch courts to decide whether Chavez-Vilchez had “a derived right of residence.”

But if the Dutch court ruled that she did not have this right, then “her situation and that of her child must be examined… in the light of Article 20″ of the EU’s treaty.

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Alleged Islamic terrorist appeals deportation from Ireland

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An appeal brought by a man with alleged links to Islamic terrorism against his removal from the State will proceed before the Supreme Court at the end of the month.

The court had previously granted the man’s lawyers permission to challenge an order of the High Court permitting his deportation on the grounds the case raised points of general public importance.

The man claims that if deported he is at risk of being tortured, and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The appeal was briefly mentioned returned before Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell in the Supreme Court today who was told the appeal can proceed on May 31 next.

Michael Lynn SC said the appeal will be heard in a day.

The man’s appeal is against a judgment by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys who dismissed his bid to overturn the decision of the Minister for Justice to deport the man.

Mr Justice Humphreys ruled the Minister’s decision, that there were no substantial grounds to find that the man would be at real risk of ill treatment if deported to his home country, was lawful.

The Judge also refused to allow the man bring an appeal to the Court of Appeal and lifted a stay preventing him being removed from the State because no point of law of exception public importance arose.

The man, aged in his 50s and has been living in Ireland for several years, claims his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention would be breached if he is deported.

The court heard he was convicted and jailed in France for several years for terrorist offences.

He has also served a prison sentence in Ireland after he was convicted of attempting to travel using forged documents.

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