205. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a policy in place as to the way in which the State would respond in the eventuality that an Irish citizen becomes radicalised by foreign terror groups and seeks to return to reside here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9734/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): It would not be appropriate for me to discuss the detail of any individual case.
The return to the EU of persons suspected of having been active in conflict in Iraq or Syria, or residing in conflict areas, presents complex challenges, including questions of public protection, the prosecution of offences, the protection of citizens’ rights - particularly the rights of non-combatants - and de-radicalisation, none of which matters lend themselves to easy resolution. The shared challenges arising have been a consistent focus of discussion with my EU colleagues at meetings of Justice and Interior Ministers.
The Deputy will appreciate that the complexity of these cases is such that issues will arise where there is no ready solution. Such cases can only be dealt with on a case by case basis. The Government has made clear that appropriate consular assistance, to which Irish citizens are entitled, will be provided to them where it is possible to do so.
The question of how accountability can best be achieved for the people of Iraq and Syria who have suffered so greatly at the hands of ISIS is a complex one, facing not just Ireland, but also our EU counterparts and other international partners. Whether it is possible to secure prosecutions in Iraq and Syria, by local means or by an international mechanism, is open to question. Whether it is feasible to secure prosecutions in the home states of foreign fighters is also open to question given the difficulty of securing evidence.
If any fighters do return here and there is evidence available that they have committed terrorist offences, then they will be investigated fully by the Garda Authorities with a view to prosecution. Any decision on prosecution would, of course, be a matter solely for the DPP.
The authorities here will continue to work closely with their international partners in this regard.
I can assure the Deputy that all measures necessary and consistent with the law will be taken to protect the State and the people from harm and to vindicate the rights of individuals.