SF TD insists IRA ‘not involved’ in cross-Border crime
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn says IRA that supported peace process has ‘gone away’
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said he wanted to send the message to businesses working with criminal gangs and to people buying black market cigarettes that “we need the taxes on cigarettes for the health services”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The IRA that supported the peace process has “gone away” and is not involved in diesel laundering, cigarette smuggling or petrol stretching, Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has said.
Those involved “are not republicans; they are criminal gangs,” he said.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald agreed they were criminal but added “there are links to paramilitary groups”.
Mr Mac Lochlainn, a Donegal North East TD, was speaking during Dáil question time when he asked the about Garda plans and resources to tackle criminal gangs involved in cross-Border crime.
He said he wanted to send the message to businesses working with criminal gangs and to people buying black market cigarettes that “we need the taxes on cigarettes for the health services”.
Mr Mac Lochlainn said he also wanted to send the message “that the people involved in these activities, despite comments from some journalists, just one or two, are not the IRA that supported the peace process and that have gone away”.
He said that anyone with information should assist the PSNI and the Garda. “The consequences are very severe for this State and the North,” he said. “They are anti-peace process and clearly criminal. I wish to put it on the record and send out a clear signal from everyone in this House that those involved in these activities are a threat to all of us.”
Ms Fitzgerald highlighted the close co-operation between gardaí and the PSNI and the successful outcome of searches on both sides of the Border earlier this month, which resulted in the seizure of cigarettes valued at €167,000 in the South and two million cigarettes, 12 tonnes of tobacco and a tobacco processing plant in the North.
Ms Fitzgerald said a significant oil-laundering plant was uncovered in Co Monaghan, with the capacity to launder about 20 million litres of fuel a year. It demonstrated the “scale of the issue involved”.
She added: “This is a very challenging criminal justice area which is getting focused attention, North and South.”