Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry has called on the Minister for Small Business John Perry to start listening to small retailers across the North West and to wake up to the threat posed by criminal gangs.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with representatives from the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) the Sligo Senator called for urgent action from Minister Perry to help protect small retailers from criminals involved in smuggling, laundering and counterfeiting.
“Minister Perry and his Government colleagues need to wake up to the serious threat of criminal gangs involved in smuggling and counterfeiting.  These black market criminals are putting jobs and viable businesses in the retail sector at risk, and Minister Perry is failing to do anything about it,” Senator Mac Sharry said.
“I know that the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee has been examining the issue but the bottom line is that we need to take action before it is too late. According to the ‘Tackling the Black Market and Retail Crime’ report, black market criminals are costing the taxpayer €861 million per year. We cannot afford to forgo hundreds of millions of euro from our tax revenue each year. I am saying loud and clear that the Government needs to stop talking about this, and start taking real action before more hardworking retailers and their staff are put at risk.
“Minister Perry needs to sit down immediately with the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and draw up a plan to tackle this issue. I have written to Minister Shatter asking him to immediately outline what steps are being taken to clamp down on this illegal activity.
“Throughout the North West there are growing concerns about cuts to community garda resources and the planned closure of yet more local garda stations.  All of this means that gardaí in this region are already stretched to their limit.  The Government needs to target the gangs involved in retail crime directly and ensure that the necessary resources are provided allowing them to do so.
“In addition to this, we need greater deterrents to stop the sale of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes and other illegal goods. I believe that the fines need to be increased immediately and I am urging the Justice Minister to consider this as a matter of priority,” the Sligo Senator said.