The Government needs to immediately deal with the serious threat posed by criminal gangs involved in smuggling and counterfeiting, in order to protect the legitimate retailers throughout Waterford, according to Fianna Fáil Cllr Gary Wyse.

“The Oireachtas Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Committee will be in Waterford next week to hear the views of retailers and interested parties about the scale of the problem,” said Cllr Wyse.

“The report from Retail Ireland entitled ‘Tackling the Black Market and Retail Crime’, shows this problem is costing the taxpayer €860 million per year. I will be telling the Committee clearly that the Government needs to wake up to the problem, they need to stop talking and take action.”

Cllr Wyse has also submitted a motion for debate at the next meeting of Waterford City Council on this matter saying that small businesses are being destroyed by these gangs.

“Jobs are at risk and every politician should leave no stone unturned to bring an end to this criminality. I will be in contact with my colleagues on Waterford County Council about this matter, asking that they seek to have the matter discussed also, as it is a countywide issue. This issue should be examined by our Joint Policy Committee, so we can hear from the relevant Gardaí about the steps that they are taking.

“My concern is that there are not enough resources being deployed to tackle this criminality. I’ve been concerned for some time about the reduction in Garda numbers and the threat to local stations, which ultimately means that criminal gangs are not being monitored.

“When the Exchequer is denied much needed revenue, it forces the Government to cut vital services in our communities, such as Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH). But yet, the proceeds of this smuggling and counterfeiting lines the pockets of criminal gangs who wreak havoc in many communities.

“Smuggling of cigarettes is at an all-time high, fines need to be increased, but this needs to be done immediately. Criminal gangs involved in the supply or sale of smuggled and or counterfeit goods are devastating the legitimate business throughout Waterford. The research from Retail Ireland is shocking and it sets out the measures that are required to stop this.

“The current Programme for Government commits parties to tackle the illicit cigarette trade, but we need to see immediate action not empty promises. The people of Waterford have had enough of these.”