A project to connect Ireland to a European cross-border security information system is about to go live, the Department of Justice and Equality has confirmed.
This will require the Garda’s information and communications technology systems to be integrated with those of the Schengen Information System phase two, known as SIS II.
The project commenced in April 2017 and is on target for a phased delivery approach with an overall delivery timeline of Q1 2020.
Ireland, like the UK, is not a member of the Schengen common travel area but takes part in some policing co-operation arrangements which are part of the Schengen Agreement and will be able to provide and receive data under SIS II.
Alerts on people, vehicles and property
SIS II enables national border control authorities, police, customs, visa and judicial authorities in the Schengen area to share information, including alerts on people, vehicles and property.
When operational, it will enable the rapid dissemination of information on organised crime targets, terrorist threats and other types of crime across the EU, a Justice spokesman confirmed.
The project has undergone testing and has been declared to be technically ready for implementation, but the European Commission is conducting a final evaluation before making a decision on when the system will go live.
"The SIS II project achieved technical readiness in Q4 2019, meaning the technical and compliancy test phases prescribed by eu-LISA (the agency responsible for administering the system) were successfully completed," the spokesman told Gazette.ie.
Ireland joined the system following discussions with the European Council’s legal service and the office of the Attorney General.
Functional testing was successfully executed with Iceland, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland and user acceptance testing of all SIS-related national systems was completed in early December.
Ireland has a memorandum of understanding with the UK specifically in relation to the continuation of the Ireland-UK common travel area.
The draft EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement explicitly acknowledges that the CTA will continue following the UK’s departure from the EU.
SIS II holds a number of specific alerts on people, vehicles and property from participating Member States, operating on a “hit – no hit” basis.
When additional information or collaboration in relation to an alert is required, member states communicate directly via SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at National Entry) Offices.