CUSTOMS officers based at Shannon Airport are to receive new scanning equipment to stop contraband coming into the country, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.
He was responding to concerns raised by Labour’s Deputy John Lyons over the estimated hundreds of millions in revenue being lost through the activities of tobacco smugglers. He had asked whether the minister or Customs and Excise had any plans to increase the number of X-ray scanners at Irish ports and airports and to stem the flow of contraband.
“I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of taxes and duties and for tackling the smuggling of dutiable and prohibited goods, that they regard the prevention of smuggling, including the smuggling of illicit tobacco products, as a high priority area,” Minister Noonan said.
“The use of enforcement equipment such as mobile X- ray scanners and other detection technologies is just one element of a multi-faceted strategy employed by Revenue to tackle smuggling,” a strategy the minister said included intelligence-sharing with other European customs authorities.
There were currently three large X-ray systems in the country which could examine freight containers, two of which were ordinarily based at Dublin and Rosslare ports but could be brought to other locations if required.
“Revenue’s other mobile X-ray system is a scan van, which is available for deployment and is used at airports, ports and warehouses,” Minister Noonan said.
“Revenue also uses smaller static baggage or parcel scanners at all major ports, airports and postal depots and are currently in the process of replacing units in Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport and Rosslare. Revenue, I understand, is generally satisfied with their current scanning capability and consider that the container ports are adequately serviced by their scanners. Revenue has no plans at present to acquire any additional scanners.”