Tipperary TD Noel Coonan, as a member of the British Irish Parliamentary Association, has called for greater cooperation and liaison between the PSNI and An Garda Siochana to eliminate the activities of organised crime gangs involved with cross-border illicit trade, including the establishment of a permanent, full time multidisciplinary task force.
Deputy Coonan was speaking at the landmark 50th British Irish Parliamentary Association Plenary which was held over three days in Leinster House and in Croke Park.
Deputy Coonan said: “I, along with my BIPA colleagues, have called for greater cooperation in inter-agency training between the police forces both north and south of the boarder in relation to drug and cigarette smuggling, fuel laundering and other important issues of policing. I spoke about this important policing matter during this morning’s discussion. The Irish and British Governments and all law enforcement agencies will need to work together in unison to combat these types of trades that impact severely on many businesses.
“I asked that our police forces go down the road of greater co-operation and collaboration in training. The Garda Commissioner has indicated they will be introducing a combination of Garda and inter-agency training. This would mean our services would be more united with one purpose. I want to see An Garda Siochana and the PSNI sit down together and devise serious penalties for those involved in illicit activity.
“In a report launched on Monday, Committee A of the BIPA suggest more serious penalties, including more lengthy custodial sentences for illicit trade activities, in order to make the island of Ireland a more difficult place for criminals to operate.
“The report, entitled Cross-border Police Cooperation and Illicit Trade, was adopted at the 50th BIPA plenary session. Other recommendations suggest legislation be updated to ensure operators of filling stations, who are successfully prosecuted for selling laundered/illegal fuel, cannot simply reopen again after a few weeks, as happens at present; on-the-spot fines be introduced for consumers found to have knowingly purchased illicit commodities and gaps in enforcement where gains could be made by targeted investment and increased funding be identified,” said Deputy Coonan.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny delivered the opening address before later sessions on the role of sport and reconciliation.