Gardaí set to serve in Northern Ireland

An agreement allowing for police officers from the Irish Republic to serve in Northern Ireland and vice versa is to be signed Monday.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Noel Conroy, Commissioner of the Garda Siochana will sign joint protocols at Hillsborough which allow personnel exchanges and secondments between the forces.

The signing, at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, will be attended by the Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy and Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

The exchanges were first recommended in the Patten Report and the Irish and British governments carried forward the idea in an inter-governmental agreement on policing which they signed in 2002.

Is this a politically motivated cross-border scheme or just a necessary part of good policing on the island of Ireland?