29/06/2010

Cross-Border Crime Focus Welcomed

There has been a warm welcome in Northern Ireland for reports that the Irish Republic's Justice Minister, Dermot Ahern, (pictured) is to kick-start a multi-agency initiative to crack down on crime in border areas.

The news that it will begin shortly has been hailed as good news by the SDLP Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tommy Gallagher.

However, Mr Gallagher said for the venture to succeed it must be mirrored this side of the border.

He was commenting after the Daíl Minister said Gardaí, customs and excise, revenue and social security authorities will all be involved in the clampdown.
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Mr Gallagher said: "This initiative to tackle cross border crime, while long overdue, is nonetheless welcome. Gardaí, joined by personnel from Customs and Excise plus social security can be an improvement to the situation as it is.

"However, this initiative will only be effective if it is complemented by a similar initiative this side of the border.

"Everyone in border constituencies is aware that social security fraud is a problem and there are individuals and groups making easy money through rackets such as waste material, diesel and cigarettes. In some cases the paramilitaries are behind it," he said.

"The best message for those engaging in these crimes is that both governments will show determination to crack down heavily on them.

"I will be asking the First Minister's Office (OFMDFM) to immediately act to involve the appropriate departments here in launching a similar initiative.

"Both governments, north and south must be seen to unite of this important issue."

(BMcC/GK)

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