Gardaí set to be cleared for NI service

20/02/2005 - 12:59:39

A ground-breaking agreement clearing the way for police officers from the Republic of Ireland to serve in Northern Ireland is to be signed tomorrow, it was revealed today.

Under the agreement officers from Northern Ireland will also be able to be seconded to the Republic.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Noel Conroy, Commissioner of the Garda Siochana will sign a unique joint protocols 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 Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

The agreement comes at a time of unprecedented co-operation between the two forces as they seek to track down the £26.5m (€38m) they believe the IRA stole in the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast before Christmas and as the Garda mount a linked crack-down on alleged IRA money laundering.

The idea for exchanges and secondments was first recommended in the Patten Report on the future of policing in Northern Ireland drawn up by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten in 1999.

The Irish and British governments carried forward the idea in an inter-governmental agreement on policing which they signed in 2002.

Under that international agreement the two police services have devised the protocols which now facilitate the movement of officers between their forces.

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