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Today I wrote to the Minister for Justice stating my opposition to the ongoing participation of An Garda Síochána in project ROXANNE. You can find the text of the letter below:

Dear Minister McEntee,

I am writing to you today concerning the joint EU-funded research project ROXANNE (Real time network, text, and speaker analytics for combating organized crime), that runs from September 2019 to August 2022.

As you will know An Garda Síochána are taking part in this scheme Also included in this scheme is the Israeli National Police, which includes the Israel Border Police, units of which operate in occupied Palestine, beyond the so-called ‘green line’ – the recognised border in the region as per EU law.

Given the operational remit of this force is outside the EU designated jurisdiction, I am writing to you questioning the involvement of An Garda Síochána in the ROXANNE project. Irish involvement with bodies such as this only serves to offer a carte blanche for states wishing to breach international law and engage in illegal occupations, in fact if anything the imagery seems to represent an endorsement of their actions.

The Israel Border Police also has a poor record on human rights. Amnesty International has described the force as engaging in “extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children), suppression of freedom of expression/association including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.” Similarly, Israeli NGO B’Tselem reported only two weeks ago of the force’s involvement in the destruction of Palestinian homes in al-Khalediyeh to make way for the building of more illegal Israeli settlements. Both these demolitions, and the settlements they make way for have been condemned repeatedly by Minister Coveney as contrary to international law.

Given this information it is of vital importance that we An Garda Síochána withdraw from the ROXANNE project. Such a move would not be without precedent; Portugal’s Ministry of Justice and Belgium’s University of Leuven have both withdrawn from other projects which featured the Israeli Ministry of Public Security as a partner.

If An Garda Síochána are truly to be seen as the ‘guardians of the peace’, it is imperative to see to them disassociated from forces acting as a barrier achieving peace in the Middle East. Indeed, such a move would send a strong diplomatic message to the region regarding Ireland’s view of this brutal occupation and would offer a sign of hope that the two-state solution and a lasting peace can be achieved.

Is mise le meas,
Patrick Costello TD – Dublin South Central