RETAILERS need more government protection from the threat posed by crime gangs involved in the black market, Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea has warned.
Mr O’Dea wants immediate action from Finance Minister, local TD Michael Noonan to protect small retailers from what he describes as the “devastating” impact caused to businesses from criminals involved in smuggling, laundering and counterfeiting.
Speaking in advance of a meeting with Limerick retailers and retailer representatives, Mr O’Dea said many people do not realise when they get a cheap box of cigarettes from the black market, not only are they forcing hard-pressed business people out of a trade - but they are also supporting many levels of crime.
“Minister Noonan and the rest of the Government need to sit up and act on behalf of small retailers, who are seeing their businesses under constant attack from criminal gangs involved in smuggling and counterfeiting. These black market criminals are putting jobs and viable businesses in the retail sector at risk, and as far as I can see Minister Noonan is failing to act,” he said.
The issue has been debated at length by the Oireachtas Jobs and Enterprise Committee, which has already examined the ‘Tackling the Black Market and Retail Crime’ report, which states that black market criminals are costing the taxpayer €861 million per year.
Mr O’Dea continued: “We need to see more action and less talk. There are a series of recommendations that could be implemented immediately for example, increase the fines available for the Gardai, Customs and Revenue officials to tackle this issue. Minister Noonan, would I believe, have the full support of the Dáil for such measures.”
The former Defence Minister believes the government’s “disastrous policy” of reducing garda resources “sends a very strong message that Ireland is open for business for these crime gangs.”
He said many retailers fear that due to cutbacks, the tackling of retail crime will fall through the cracks due to a lack of resources and time.