Alliance would like to see the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Gardai able to pursue suspects on the other side of the Irish border. Such an instrument could be based on the European Union`s Schengen Agreement and would be an important tool in the fight against terrorism,” Alliance suggested.
The UK and Ireland are the only European Union member states who are not signatories to the Schengen Agreement, which allows police wearing their uniforms and in clearly marked vehicles to cross borders to track down criminals, has led to the closure of border posts between participating countries, stopped Customs checks between signatory nations, and provides for the sharing of information on terrorism as well as DNA and fingerprint evidence.
Back in 1997 on the eve of a major expansion of the original (1985) agreement and convention, the BBC had this to say about its voluntarily accepted conditions:
…member countries have to have a common visa policy, provide for police and judicial cooperation, and link up with a centralised computer system that pools information about cross-border crime – in particular the smuggling of drugs and the arrival of illegal immigrants. The major condition for open frontiers within Schengen is effective controls on the external borders.
This would appear to significantly ahead of either of the nationalist parties, in terms of cross border co-operation. It will be interesting to see what the Unionist parties make of it too, since it privileges concerns over common security standards.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty