Concerns mount that Brexit will lead to smuggling and dissident activity

Senior Government source said activities of smugglers might be deterred by technology

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach said any return of a border would see the border region go ‘back to El Paso’. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach said any return of a border would see the border region go ‘back to El Paso’. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

 

Marked increases in smuggling and paramilitary activities around the Border are certain to happen in the wake of Brexit, politicians and groups familiar with the issues say.

Significant differences in prices will drive up smuggling, said the Retailers Against Smuggling group.

“Retailers are genuinely concerned about the impact Brexit, a fluctuating sterling and the possibility of trade tariffs will have on smuggling along the Border,” its chairman, Benny Gilsenan, said.

“Currently there is no deterrent to purchasing smuggled goods and they are being illegally traded on the doorsteps of legitimate businesses.

“The illegal cigarette and fuel trade is booming in Ireland and the Government needs to do more to rid the country of these black markets by imposing a minimum fine on conviction for smugglers and providing extra resources for law enforcement authorities.”

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Illicit goods

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach said any return of a hard border would see the Border region go “back to El Paso” as “smuggling, of course, will increase”.

“Where there are differences in product price in either direction then the movement of illicit goods will increase,” he said.

“Furthermore, the ordinary punter will shop with their feet, based on price. They will buy all their groceries where it is cheapest.”

A senior Government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the activities of smugglers might be deterred by technology.

“I am a bit more worried about the dissident republicans who really are hoping for a hard border. I would say they have a five-year plan already in place.”

Revenue Commissioners have not yet specified publicly as yet the scale of resources it will deploy to counter any increased smuggling activity post-Brexit.

It was not in a position to respond to queries from The Irish Times on Thursday.

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