Justice Minister Helen McEntee speaks out as Cabinet approves emergency law to counter Graham Dwyer’s European court win

The Minister for Justice insisted gardai must have the powers to adequately deal with issues such as national security as the Cabinet last night approved emergency legislation to counter callous killer Graham Dwyer’s European court win.

Helen McEntee’s department says the amendment to the laws surrounding retention of data will have two main objectives.

It will provide for changes to the current rules around data from phones and internet communications for national security purposes.

Read More:Criminologist warns Graham Dwyer ‘won’t be able to control fetishes’ and ‘will try to feed his urges’ if freed

It will also provide for new access provisions including two new types of orders which give the gardai more power to secure and access all forms of electronic data for specific criminal investigations or proceedings.

One is preserving specified data to do with specific people, locations or other indicators like mobile phone numbers.

A Preservation Order will not in itself require the granting of access to data.

The Department says production orders will need the gathering and submission of specified data in a person’s possession or control to gardai.

Helen McEntee, Minister for Justice, talks to the media at the 44th Association Of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Conference held in Killarney, Co Kerry

The Minister intends to return to the Government to seek approval for the General Scheme of a Bill in the coming weeks.

In April, murderer Dwyer won a landmark case at the European Court of Justice which ruled that Ireland’s system of retaining and accessing mobile phone metadata breaches EU law.

That data was key to the State’s case against Dwyer for the 2012 murder of Elaine O’Hara.

Last week, the State consented to a dismissal of its appeal against the mobile phone data ruling in the killer’s favor.

The Government is moving urgently on the matter and Minister McEntee intends to pass the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas by the summer.

And she will bring forward wider reforms in the area of ​​data retention later this year.

Following the Cabinet meeting, Minister McEntee said: “The Government’s decision today allows for work to go forward to reflect the impact of judgments of the European Court of Justice.

“While I do not want to comment on the specifics of cases which are before the courts, I have been clear that I do not want a situation where An Garda Síochána have their hands tied behind their backs.

Graham Dwyer pictured on 12/10/2013
Graham Dwyer pictured on 12/10/2013

“Access to telecommunications data has become ever more important for the detection, investigation and prosecution of crime and for safeguarding the security of the State.

“An Garda Síochána do hugely important work to keep us all safe, to investigate criminals and to ensure justice is done.

“They must be fully equipped with strong laws and modern technology to fight crime and keep us safe.

“We need to acknowledge that Gardaí require access to data to do their jobs and keep us safe, and that there are occasions when the interests of public safety, fighting crime and national security must override the absolute right to privacy.

“There should always be safeguards and protections when it comes to accessing data, but we must not allow the balance to shift too far away from keeping people safe and fighting crime.”

“I intend to bring a General Scheme to Government for approval in the coming weeks, after which I will announce further detail of the intended legislation.”

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