Revenue under resourced to check the 1.2m freight vehicles that enter Ireland every year
The Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has stated that there are only three mobile scanners available to Revenue for scanning containers coming into the country’s ports. While the mobile units can be deployed to any port or warehouse throughout the country, these resources lack the capacity to adequately monitor the 1.2 million freight vehicles and trailers passing through just the three main Irish ports in 2022. The Minister also stated that Revenue currently operates twenty-three Detector Dog teams, previously quoted as running at a cost of €40,000 per unit per year.
The Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill will introduce a new licensing system which will add a further unnecessary administrative burden and cost on retailers, without addressing a huge underlining issue. Illegal tobacco, some of dubious origin continues to enter Ireland in huge amounts. Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) proposes that 30% of the funds collected from the licence fee are ringfenced for initiatives that will deal with the growth of smuggling activities in the country.
Illegal tobacco sales have soared over the past year with the issue now becoming a chronic challenge. With the increase in international travel and increased smuggling, Ireland’s streets are awash with illicit tobacco. In the space of just one week (25-31 May, 2023) Revenue seized nearly 8 million cigarettes at Dublin Port representing a loss of €5m to the Exchequer; with two further major seizures of 10 million cigarettes on June 9, and €10 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes seized in Dublin on July 4, showing the size of the illegal tobacco market in Ireland.
National Spokesperson for Retailers Against Smuggling, Benny Gilsenan said: “It’s no surprise that the illegal cigarette trade has grown in recent years following a cost-of-living crisis. Border agencies don’t have the resources required to fight smuggling at our ports and airports. With the one of the highest prices for tobacco in Europe you can see why Ireland has become a destination for criminals to sell tobacco. We can see from these figures that Revenue needs all the support it can get, we must add more scanners and personnel at entry points across the country.”