Susceptible to smuggling?

Interesting that the new Irish government Justice Minister, Brian Lenihan, is reported to have dismissed suggestions that the recent discovery of bales of cocaine off the County Cork coast proves that the Irish coastline is susceptible to smuggling. Interesting because of the Taoiseach’s acknowledgement last week that the discovery was due to “weather conditions rather than intelligence” and the Observer report this Sunday which noted that

The vulnerability of Ireland’s coastline was first highlighted seven years ago by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA found that stretches of coast are ‘nearly impossible to patrol’. It concluded: ‘Ireland’s isolated coasts are ideal for shielding offload operations. The country’s internal role as a transit point will accelerate as drug trafficking organisations continue to favour using the island for continental and British-bound cocaine and hashish shipments.’

And also from the Observer report

Much of the intelligence on the cocaine smuggling networks is orchestrated by a new, highly secretive pan-European Maritime Analysis Operations Centre (MAOC) in Portugal. British intelligence officers with experts from Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France and the Netherlands monitor vessel movements from the coca plantations of South America to the Caribbean via the ‘Irish box’. The challenge to the MAOC team is daunting. More than 220m sea containers are transported across the oceans and seas each year, with 90 per cent of cargos escaping inspection.

The MAOC centre, which will open later this year, is aimed at protecting the EU’s Atlantic borderline from cocaine traffickers. A source inside Soca, the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, said: ‘Actionable intelligence is matched to maritime assets to counter the threat in the most effective way possible. This will increase the operational capability of the participating countries to stem the flow of cocaine and improve our common knowledge of the gangs involved.’

The problem for MAOC and other agencies involved in halting the cocaine tide is the dearth of co-operation between services like the Royal Navy and its smaller Irish equivalent. Last year the then Conservative shadow Northern Ireland Secretary David Lidington called for a new Anglo-Irish naval agreement allowing the two services to work together on joint patrols and to share intelligence aimed at shutting down the sea bound cocaine smuggling networks. Last year the Irish Defence Forces confirmed that there was no formal arrangement between the two navies. Since then there has been no progress.

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  • Donnacha

    If there’s so much coke and hash being transported through Ireland, how come there was a dope famine in Dundalk last year? (And I mean the narcotic type of dope, not the human sort…)

  • jimboy2

    Have the RN any spare ships to cooperate with?

  • Cruimh

    Well Jackie – I suppose you fancy a spot more bird watching after your round of Golf ?

    I’d love to see some more puffins – they hang out in out of the way coastline – Saw some beauties last time.

  • Sean Graham’s Bookies

    The Observer would hardly be up to speed on this as it is a liberal rag for empty heads. Why did the Provos land sp much of their weapons in Wicklow if West Cork is such an easy run?
    Thre is so much money at coke the stuff is being landed everywhere. As long as people keep putting it up their noses, it will flood in. Where do the LVF/DUP get their dope from?
    The stuff about no cooperation is also crap. They weren’t long catching the mother ship.

  • The Dubliner

    Even allowing for our supposedly less protected coasts, I don’t see the logic of offloading on the Irish coast when it has to go through customs at the ferry ports between Ireland and the UK with a risk of detection at either port, whereas offloading on the UK shoreline deletes that risk. It seems to be mainly the Wright gang who used this method. My guess is the minister doesn’t feel it’s a problem for Ireland if the drugs go to the UK. How the EU feel about that is another matter. If the Navy need more patrol boats, then the EU should fork out the money for them.

  • Donnacha

    Wouldn’t it be easier to ship it through NI? Less customs checks and so on and they could fill up the UDA’s stockrooms en route.

  • DC

    “If the Navy need more patrol boats, then the EU should fork out the money for them.”

    We should have had a better constitution that bolstered firmer arrangements over transnational problems.

    Here is a fine example, a strand of globalisation if you like, where it is better to have more effecient structures in place which are there to be utilised to execute policy to counter problems affecting the EU at large.

    Sometimes it makes sense for a little touch of federalism and indeed levying money along those lines to combat the issue. Perhaps slightly crossing those lines that ought not be crossed.

    However, how long have we been lectured by national governments about joined-up thinking only to watch them bicker about doing so inside institutions designed to harvest benefits from such pulling of multi-national brainpower.