“The Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 was enacted in the wake of the barbaric murder by the Real IRA of 29 innocent people at Omagh in August 1998,” the minister said.
“The awful carnage and grief of that event will never be forgotten.
“The State in the intervening years has been relentless in its efforts to ensure that we have no more Omaghs.”
She said that while every one looks forward to a time when the provisions will no longer be required, the reality of the current situation must be taken into account.
The minister also referred to the commitment that the provisions will form part of an independent review of the State’s security legislation, as recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
“My view is that such a review is timely to ensure that our legislation in this area is up to date, and fully meets the needs of the criminal justice system.
"It will be an independent review and my Department is currently undertaking work to define its scope which will inform the timescale,” the minister said, adding that Garda assessment is that there remains a real and persistent threat from republican paramilitary groups on this island.
“The threat level in Northern Ireland from these groups is currently regarded as severe. We know these groups oppose peace and democracy; and regrettably they remain committed to violence and criminality,” she said.
Provisions of the Offences Against the State Acts also have application to the international terrorist threat.
It is the clear view of the Garda Síochána that the Act continues to be a most important tool in its ongoing efforts in the fight against terrorism, the minister said.