Declan Breathnach TD
Louth (and East Meath)

5th July, 2018

Breathnach hosts Leinster House Briefing on Smuggling and Illicit Trade

– approximately 520 million illegal cigarettes were consumed in Ireland in 2017 –

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach hosted a briefing in Leinster House on behalf of Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) to raise awareness of the growing concern surrounding smuggling in Ireland.

“Following on from the success of a meeting I attended in Belfast ‘Brexit, the Border and the Black Market’ on 15 June, I invited RAS into Leinster House to speak about how illicit trade is negatively impacting Irish Retailers and our local communities.

“RAS believe that until measures are taken to effectively tackle smuggling to protect small businesses, there should be no further increase in excise. We have witnessed a growth in Non-Irish duty paid goods which is a major concern to retailers, from 17% in 2013 to 20% in 2017 and due to the year-on-year increases in excise, this is likely to grow even further. Further hikes will lead to greater price differentials between legitimate, legal, duty-paid products and illicit, non-duty-paid products. They are calling for a moratorium on further excise increases until they can be proven not to lead to a surge in smuggling.

RAS spokesperson, Benny Gilsenan, said: “We want to give a voice to the shopkeepers around the country that are having their business undermined by smuggled tobacco, alcohol and solid fuel. Retailers face an uncertain future with Brexit looming, so the Government needs to totally reconsider its policy of year-on-year excise increases, which clearly helping fuel the illicit trade and to provide more resources to Revenue to stop the flow of illicit goods into Ireland and our local communities. We’re grateful for the opportunity today to speak at Deputy Breathnach’s briefing today and help raise awareness of this growing issue for small retailers.”

-Ends-

Johanna Walsh, Office of Declan Breathnach T.D., Leinster House, Dublin 2 (Declan – 087 2697638)

(T) 01 6183549 (Email) declan.breathnach@oireachtas.ie

Notes to the Editor:
· Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) represent over 3,000 small and medium sized retailers across the country. RAS aims to generate widespread awareness amongst the public, media and decision-makers of the impact that smuggled alcohol, tobacco products and solid fuel has on local legitimate retailers in Ireland and the impact that tax policy has on them.
· Last month RAS launched their second annual cross-border survey which revealed that since last year border retailers in both Ireland and Northern Ireland are almost 70% more concerned about the impact Brexit will have on smuggling and the sale of illicit goods in their communities. The survey results demonstrate the fact that the growing issue of smuggling over the border must remain a priority during all Brexit negotiations.
· Those who purchase smuggled goods knowingly do so because there is no deterrent or risk. RAS are in support of the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill 2017 which was introduced to the Dáil by Deputies Declan Breathnach, John Lahart and Robert Troy in April 2017. The Bill will make it an offence to purchase illicit alcohol, tobacco and solid fuel; an offence to purchase illicit goods from an unregistered or unlicensed retailer and will provide for on-the-spot fines in respect of such offences.
· Revenue’s Illegal Tobacco Products Research Survey 2017: approximately 520 million illegal cigarettes were consumed in Ireland in 2017, representing a loss to the Exchequer of approximately €229 million which means 26 million packs were illegally sold and bought in 2017.
· Revenue’s Annual Report 2017 highlights the disparity between cigarette seizures and summary convictions. In 2017 there were 4,493 illegal cigarette seizures, but only 26 convictions.