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Written Answers. - Drug Detection.

Wednesday, 12 June 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 466 No. 7

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 65. Mr. H. Byrne Information on Hugh Byrne Zoom on Hugh Byrne  asked the Minister for Finance Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if representations have been made by the Customs Service at Rosslare Port for further resources for drug detection; the action, if any, he plans to take in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12247/96]

Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they have the question of staff resources dedicated to drug detection work under constant review. There are, at present, six assigned to the Customs National Drugs Team (CNDT) located in Rosslare. These staff consist of Operational, Intelligence and Sniffer-Dog Units. These specialist CNDT officers in Rosslare are supplemented by the general cadre of Revenue staff who are responsible for the detection and prevention of drug smuggling as part of their normal duties.

The Revenue Commissioners are fully alert to the dangers of drug smuggling along the coastline, including the smuggling through ports in the southeast of the country. Experience has shown that intelligence gathering and [1886] surveillance, rather than a static presence, are the best measures of combining drug smuggling. All CNDT units are mobile and employ the most modern means of communication and have access to aerial and sea surveillance.

The Customs Service has also enlisted the assistance of the public in the fight against drug smuggling through the drug watch programme, which was launched in 1993. Under this programme, the assistance of coastal communities, maritime personnel, as well as people living near airfields has been enlisted to report unusual occurrences to Customs. Over 15,000 calls have been received from the public in response to that programme.

In the circumstances, I am satisfied that the present measures taken by Customs in co-operation with the other enforcement agencies concerned provide adequate protection against the illegal importation of drugs along the south-east coast.

The Commissioners have informed me that they will keep the question of the deployment of Customs Officers in the Wexford-Rosslare region under constant review, having regard to Government policy on staffing numbers and budgetary controls.

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