30/01/2002

Stormont Trade Minister brands organised crime a "curse"

Key representatives from the fields of business, construction and banking came together this week to take part in talks on the effect of organised crime on local industry.

The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment Sir Reg Empey said: "Organised crime is a threat that affects us all. The need for a multi-agency approach has already been recognised, but our offensive will be much more effective if Government and the law enforcement agencies work closely with the business community.

"Northern Ireland has a thriving business culture - in fact we are renowned for it. Organised crime however is a curse that pervades our society it threatens enterprise, entrepreneurship and the excellent progress our economy has made. It is Government's role to take the lead and it is vital that we all work together against this changing threat of organised crime."

The talks between Economy Minister Sir Reg Empey and Security Minister Jane Kennedy, who is Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, were held on late on Tuesday January 29.

Speaking afterwards Ms Kennedy said organised crime was a threat that could only be tackled effectively by a coalition of Government, law enforcement agencies, businesses and the community at large.

She said: "My clear message to you as industry leaders is that the Organised Crime Task Force, supported by the police, Customs and other agencies stands ready to assist you - and the companies and trade associations you represent - to work and prosper in an enterprising business culture, free from the invidious, blood-leaching influence of the racketeers, extorters and counterfeiters."

The Security Minister said that such activity was a "regrettable part" of Northern Ireland's past and present, but she said it should not be allowed to be part of the future. (AMcE)

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