Facial recognition technology could be a “major deterrent” for criminals planning further violence in Dublin, according to a Fine Gael Minister of State.
Martin Heydon told The Pat Kenny Show this morning that facial recognition technology legislation would be ready to go before the Dáil "very shortly".
It comes after the Taoiseach pledged to introduce new laws to “enable Gardaí to make better use of CCTV footage" in the wake of the Dublin Riots last week.
Leo Varadkar also promised to accelerate new laws against incitement to hatred off the back of the violent scenes.
Minister Heydon said he expects to see legislation introducing body cams for Gardaí be passed on Wednesday, with plans to introduce facial recognition technology approved soon after.
“What we want to do, in reviewing everything that happened last Thursday, is see where are the points that can be strengthened through legislation, through policy change, and that can also put the strength in the hands of the Gardaí,” he said.
“Facial recognition technology will be seen as a major deterrent.
“Perpetrators who want to carry out opportunistic criminality on the back of a protest obviously didn’t feel deterred.”
Mr Heyden also pointed out that facial recognition technology would have allow Gardaí to work faster in identifying rioters during current investigations.
“Facial recognition technology is something that would greatly have assisted Gardaí this weekend as they trawl through 6,000 hours of CCTV footage,” he said.
“They will get through that footage; they will bring about the charges against people that are identified [but] the technology is something that could have allowed that to be done much quicker.”
Mr Heydon said facial recognition is only one part of the Government’s plan to prevent a riot like Thursday evening’s from happening again.
“We need to look at everything,” he said. “Obviously there’s a whole role of social media and between the role of the Justice Committee and the discussions happening in Government, we will look at every measure.
“I’m not saying any one measure is the silver bullet on its own - all of these measures are being looked at to make sure that we strengthen the role of the Gardaí.”
Technology 'not the solution'
Labour Justice Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin previously said the suggestion to introduce facial recognition technology is deeply “controversial”.
“It is not the solution to our problems,” he said.
The Labour TD said the Government must stop “producing legislation in an attempt to deflect from serious issues in justice”.