Warning over illegal tobacco trade
More than 114 million cigarettes worth 38 million euro have been seized by Customs over a three-month period.
The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee (ITMAC) warned the illegal tobacco trade is sweeping across the country, with Cork becoming a major target for smugglers.
Figures showed that between April to August some 25 million illegal cigarettes were seized across Cork, with a value of 8.3 million euro. Just four people were prosecuted for the sale of illegal tobacco. At the same time 31.5 million were seized in Dublin and 45.7 million in the north east of the country.
An ITMAC spokesman said a scanner is needed in the south of the country to stop Cork being a hub for criminal gangs.
"We recognise that the country is in a difficult situation at the moment but a new scanner will pay for itself, while helping to put more money into the Irish economy and cutting the supply to criminals," said a spokesman.
The ITMAC claimed one customs scanner is positioned in Dublin Port while a second operates primarily along the eastern seaboard.
"One scanner would cost the government 2 million euro," he continued.
"With a seizure of three million cigarettes costing the Irish economy 1 million euro, then a seizure of six million cigarettes would cover the cost of one scanner for Cork and help to cut down the supply and hence the criminal activity in the county. This would also help stop the supply going to other areas around the country."
ITMAC said a co-ordinated and strategic approach to the illegal tobacco trade in Ireland will bring hundreds of millions back into the economy.
"This must be lead by the government including all stakeholders, finance, justice, health, Enterprise, trade and employment," he continued. "The sooner this happens the sooner we can start taking money away from the criminals and put it back into the Irish economy."