DUBLIN, Ireland - During 2017, Ireland issued 76 arrest warrants to other European Union member states, a new report has revealed.
The annual report of the European Arrest Warrant Act for last year has revealed that Ireland issued 76 warrants to other EU member states, of which a total of 47 people were returned to Ireland.
So far, between 2004 and 2017, the total number of surrenders made to Ireland on foot of these warrants increased to 478.
The report, which was published on Monday by the Department of Justice also revealed that Ireland had received 357 European Arrest Warrants during 2017.
It pointed out that 73 warrants had resulted in the surrender of 60 individuals by Ireland to other EU member states.
The report noted that on December 31, 2017, 159 warrants transmitted by the state were still ongoing.
In a statement following the release of the annual report, the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that the range of crimes noted were extensive.
According to the Justice Department, the warrants were related to a variety of offences including murder, rape, drugs offences, assault and robbery.
It said that a large number of warrants came from the U.K., followed by Poland.
Flanagan explained, "The European Arrest Warrant is a valuable mechanism that helps ensure that dangerous criminals can be apprehended, keeping EU citizens safer as a result. It provides for an enhanced extradition process within the European Union and I note that European arrest warrants received during 2017 cited a wide range of offences including murder/grievous bodily harm, sexual offences including rape and sexual abuse of children, drugs offences, robbery/assault, fraud and human trafficking."
With the Brexit deadline looming, the Irish Minister for Justice also commented on how the extradition process could be impacted by U.K.'s exit from the EU.
Flanagan said, "The departure of the U.K. from the EU is particularly significant for Ireland on a wide range of issues. However, in the context of combating crime and terrorism, the necessity to maintain a functioning system of extradition between the two states has been identified as the key priority."
He added, "I have requested my officials in the Department of Justice and Equality to examine the implications of Brexit for extradition between the two states and to consider the options available to address the various possible outcomes to the Brexit negotiations."
The European Arrest Warrant allows the transfer of suspects between EU countries for trial or imprisonment, which is one of the key areas of judicial co-operation.
Experts have pointed out that in the event of a hard Brexit in March, the operation of the European Arrest Warrant could cease.