Record haul of pirated goods seized
Fake Gucci handbags, Manchester United and Republic of Ireland jerseys, U2 CDs and Microsoft software were in a record haul of pirated goods seized here by the Revenue Commissioners last year.
The dramatic increase in seizures in 2001 - 82,000 items compared with 13,000 in 2000, a rise of 530 per cent - was disclosed as a Dublin customs official received an award for combating the pirates.
Mr Shay Doyle, counterfeit co-ordinator with the Revenue Commissioners, was honoured by the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, which represents some 200 companies in 30 countries.
According to the ACG, Irish businesses lose €750 million a year to pirates and 250 jobs are put in jeopardy.
The presentation coincided with the release of new figures from the European Commission revealing that some 94 million pirated items were seized last year throughout the EU.
The Commission report also indicated that a number of investigations by customs seem to confirm links between counterfeiting and terrorist networks, including paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
Mr Doyle attributed the rise in seizures to improved communications and understanding between customs and brand owners and praised the work of customs officials and the ACG.
He noted that the main target of counterfeiters here is textiles, particularly youth fashion and sports jerseys, but pointed out a rise in the number of pirated CDs, DVDs and mobile phone covers and accessories.
Mr Michael O'Grady of the Revenue Commissioners stressed that counterfeiting isn't a "victimless crime". Pointing to rising piracy of computer software and the importance of that sector to the economy, he said "enormous numbers of jobs" were at stake.
"The level of criminality is also enormous, the margins are so big, and there has been a sinister development in the involvement of paramilitary groups and organised crime," he added.
Mr John Anderson, director general of the ACG, praised the Revenue Commissioners for "turning up the heat" on counterfeiters and said this was greatly helped by Mr Doyle's dedication to his cause.