A new body to collate information about passengers coming to Ireland from non-EU countries is to begin work next week as part of international measures to combat terrorism.

The Irish Passenger Information Unit will receive data from airlines and exchange information with Europol and other European countries.

The Government is required to collect such information about people coming to Ireland as part of an EU directive to investigate and prosecute terrorist offences.

It is over two years since the EU directive required each member state to set up a passenger information unit to collect Passenger Name Recognition (PNR) data for the  prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime.

The information gathered from airlines can be checked against watch lists for known suspects to flag their movements and prevent them entering the state.

It can also detect suspicious or unusual patterns and activity.

Airlines arriving from outside the EU with non-EU passengers will be required to supply it with information from 25 May, some have yet to finalise arrangements to do so.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the information will also be a resource for gardaí and European law enforcement agencies investigating serious crime, including drug and human trafficking.