Justice Minister Simon Harris says Government has not yet received formal request to send gardaí to Disneyland

Justice Minister Simon Harris at Walter Scott House earlier today. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Robin Schiller

Justice Minister Simon Harris has said that the Government has not yet received a formal request to send gardaí to Disneyland.

Last year a small number of gardaí were stationed in France during the summer months, which Mr Harris described as a good thing along with the exchanging of information.

He also said that he would consider with "seriousness" any proposal sought to station members of other EU police forces in Ireland.

However, Mr Harris today told reporters that no formal request has been received or approved to deploy gardaí to France this summer.

It follows reports this week which quoted the French ambassador to Ireland, Vincent Guérend, as saying that gardaí would once again be stationed in his country this year to tourist sites including Disneyland.

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore said she was "really perplexed" by this and described it in the Dáil as a "very, very strange decision" given the shortage of gardaí on the street.

Asked whether the deployment of gardaí to Disneyland was appropriate in light of low numbers, Justice Minister Harris said: "We need to take a step back in relation to this one. Gardaí can only be stationed abroad with the consent of the government of Ireland.

"Generally, what happens is a proposal will come into the Department of Justice, and that proposal will need to be approved or not approved by the government. No such proposal has arrived, and no such approval has been sanctioned," the Justice Minister said.

He went on to say that exchanges of information and a degree of police mobility between EU countries was a good thing, particularly to a jurisdiction where there are a high number of people from your own country.

France is hosting this year's Rugby World Cup and a large number of Irish supporters are expected to travel for the event.

"If you're asking me more broadly do I see benefit from time to time in a very small number of gardaí going abroad, and perhaps from time to time a very small number of police officers from other European police forces coming here, I would trust the Garda Commissioner's judgement on that and we would look at any such proposal with seriousness.

"That's very different to perhaps this idea that gardaí are being sent to Disneyland which, just to be clear, there's no such proposal," Mr Harris added.

The Justice Minister was speaking at a ceremony in Dublin to honour 11 gardaí with Scott Medals for their bravery in the line of duty, including two which were awarded posthumously.

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