Helen McEntee to fast-track facial recognition technology in wake of Dublin riots


Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said she will fast-track controversial facial recognition technology (FRT) as the Government scrambles to deal with the fallout from violent riots in Dublin.

Ms McEntee said there are many people, business owners, and members of minority groups who have “very valid concerns” about their safety and she wants to reassure people that a strong garda presence will remain in place in the capital.

She said there is a policing plan in place and there are four public order units that will remain “on the ground”.

The minister said it is important gardaí have the technology available to them to access footage as quickly as possible and to make sure the “thugs and criminals” that are responsible for the destruction in Dublin are brought to justice. 

“I have been working on legislation for facial recognition technology for the last number of months,” Ms McEntee said. 

“What I intend to do is bring forward that legislation in the coming weeks. 

It’s really important that gardaí can use facial recognition technology when they are trawling through thousands of hours of CCTV footage for events like the riots that we saw and the disastrous scenes we saw on Thursday night. 

“Having that technology available to them will reduce the amount of time they have to spend trawling through thousands of hours of CCTV footage to make sure that the thugs and criminals that created so much destruction in our city on Thursday night are brought to justice as soon as possible. 

“This should not take months, it should be done in a matter of days and weeks and with the use of facial recognition technology that can be possible.

“These laws are necessary, it’s all about equipping the gardaí with the tools that they need and doing it as quickly as we can to support them in the work that they do,” Ms McEntee added.

However, the minister is to face opposition regarding FRT from her Green Party coalition colleagues. The Irish Council of Civil Liberties has also previously raised concern about the use of FRT.

Ms McEntee also said legislation allowing for the use of body cameras would be passed in the Dáil on Wednesday.


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