New Cross Border Crime Bill tackles fuel laundering and cigarette smuggling head on – Smith

– New Bill gives government chance to stamp out paramilitary gang crime along the border –

The Dáil will today debate a new Fianna Fáil Bill to set up a special Cross Border crime agency. The new agency draws together police forces, Revenue and environmental agencies from both sides of the border to help tackle fuel laundering and cigarette smuggling.

The Bill is being introduced following the murder of two Gardai in the region in recent years and comes in the wake of publication of the PSNI/MI5 report, which confirmed the continued existence of the Provisional IRA and concluded that its members were involved in criminality.  It also builds on the outline of the recent “Fresh Start” agreement in Northern Ireland and recommendations of the British Irish Parliamentary Council report on the issue.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Border Region Development Brendan Smith commented, “We need to set up a specific taskforce to deal with the problem of criminality across the border region. The tragic murders of two Gardai, instances like the brutal murder of Paul Quinn, massive environmental damage and significant loss of revenue to the State are having a massive impact on the area. There is a specific criminal threat linked to paramilitarism, as the PSNI/MI5 report outlined, that needs to be dealt with. A wall of silence and fear has descended across these areas, as people feel threatened by the paramilitary gangs operating there.  These communities suffer at the hands of a small number of individuals who have huge financial resources available to them. Stamping out cigarette smuggling and fuel laundering with a co-ordinated effort will help to free these communities from the shadow of paramilitary crime.”

“This legislation is also a clear chance for the government to kick start the new “Fresh Start” agreement. It gives them a clear document to bring into next month’s meetings with British and Northern Irish Ministers about a new crime agency. Our proposal is a comprehensive approach that brings together police, Revenue and environmental agencies, and will deal with all aspects of cross border crime. If the Government is serious about getting to grips with the problems affecting ordinary communities along the border, which are suffering under the atmosphere of criminality then it should fully support this Bill”.