Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has called for tougher penalties for criminals involved in the sale and supply of illegal, stolen or counterfeit goods.
Deputy Collins has accused the Government of having a casual attitude towards an increasingly active black market in this country. It follows a new report from Retail Ireland, which reveals that exchequer loses €861 million a year as a result of retail crime and smuggling.
“We simply cannot afford to allow these criminals to continue to take hundreds of millions of euro from our tax revenue each year,” said Deputy Collins.
“The report shows that Ireland has a very active and profitable black market compared to international standards. This means that we are making it far too easy for criminals to rip off Irish tax-payers. The current level of convictions for selling counterfeit or stolen goods is simply not enough of a deterrent. It is clear that we need much tougher penalties and much greater enforcement of the law in this area.
“These criminals must feel begin to feel the strong arm of the law. At the moment, the average fine imposed for cigarette smuggling was €1,600, even though the maximum penalty allowable is €127,000. A zero-tolerance policy in this area would allow the courts to impose the toughest possible penalties, thereby deterring small time criminals from selling illegal cigarettes for quick and easy money.
“I am also calling on the Justice Minister to commit to providing the necessary resources to allow gardaí to enforce the law in the strongest possible way. This must include strong cross-border cooperation to target the fuel smuggling and laundering activities of the gangsters involved.
“The Minister must take a long-term view on this. Cracking down on these criminals now will benefit the exchequer and the tax-payer for years to come.”