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Extradition cases between the UK and Ireland post-Brexit will prove a lot more difficult

There are concerns that reverting to the old system will cause delays.

Old Bailey, London
Old Bailey, London
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

EXTRADITION CASES BETWEEN the UK and Ireland in a post-Brexit no-deal scenario will be slower and a lot more cumbersome. 

One of the aspects of the Brexit onmibus Bill published this week relates to extradition between the two countries. 

If Brexit crashes out of the EU, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system – which allows for the extradition of suspects between EU countries for trial or imprisonment – will cease to operate between the UK and Ireland.

Prior to the EU extradition set up, there was a bilateral arrangement between the UK and Ireland. 

While the EU extradition warrant has been described as a lot more efficient, in order to  solve this problem the Brexit ‘mega’ Bill sets out to amend a previous extradition Act that dates back to 1965.

It will allow for the extradition of Irish citizens to another State, such as the UK, which in turn, could extradite their citizens to Ireland for trial. 

Delays 

There are concerns about reverting to those rules – albeit with updates – particularly around the delays it could bring about.

Chief Justice Mr Frank Clarke has previously said the current EU warrant is “harder to find holes in” that previous iterations, stating that any new system would be tested. 

The legislation that will oversee extraditions relates to the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition 1957 and is understood to have a lot more grounds to allow for appeals and more space for objections to be put down. 

Talking to Cork’s 96FM last week, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he hoped the UK would maintain extradition arrangements with the European Union post-Brexit in order combat international crime.

“I would be concerned to ensure, for example, that we would continue to have a robust extradition process.

“I would hope that Britain would continue to sign in, for example, to the very important and necessary European Arrest Warrant… that we could ensure there is no delay in fighting crime on either side of the Border and, of course, east and west between Britain and Ireland,” he said. 

Reassurances

Tánaiste Simon Coveney moved to give reassurances this week that the much heralded no-deal Brexit omnibus Bill would protect the rights of Irish citizens and businesses. 

However, he added that he hopes it is one piece of legislation he has helped draft that will “sit on the shelf” and never have to be used.

It has taken over a year to put together, and it looks ahead at what possible issues could arise should there be a no-deal, some of which Coveney has written about today for TheJournal.ie.

However, the Tánaiste also admitted this week that there will be scenarios that no one will have foreseen, and that the situation for the UK, Ireland and Europe is “lose, lose, lose”.

While you can have all the will in the world to have preparations in place, the Tánaiste said there is no doubt that Ireland is facing into an emergency situation. 

The Bill looks at issues across nine different departments. New items contained include additional powers for Enterprise Ireland to lend to businesses without breakin EU state aid rules. There are also new VAT rules for businesses, which will allow firms to defer the payments. 

Assurances have been given that ‘the lights won’t go out’ post 29 March – the day the UK is due to leave the EU – as the changes in law will facilitate the current all-island electricity services. 

Bus services

Bus services, such as tours and school buses, operating over the border between the North and the Republic will not be disrupted due to new provisions providing for a new licensing system operating in a ‘third’ country such as the UK. 

The licences known as third-country authorisations or as third-country journey forms will be granted by the National Transport Authority – but the government hopes such provisions will not need to be activated.

In terms of education, some 1,500 Irish students studying in the UK will still be able to access their grants, as will the 200 or so UK students studying here in Ireland. 

The 132,000 people living in Ireland who get UK pensions will also be able to draw it down post-Brexit, as will the 28,000 Irish citizens who live in Britain but receive an Irish pension. 

Child Benefit will also be unaffected due to the new legislation, with 1,000 British people living in Ireland still being able to receive their payments post 29 March, and the same for the 840 Irish citizens living in the UK.

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