Hardware Association Ireland were delighted to be part of the Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) group that recently met with a group from the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) who were undertaking an inquiry into illicit trade on the border in light of Brexit. Four rapporteurs have been appointed by BIPA Committee A (Sovereign Matters) to undertake the reporting for the inquiry, as well as the Committee’s chair (Senator Frank Feighan): Among the questions that the Parliamentary group addressed were:
- What are the likely implications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU for the illicit trade of fuel, alcohol and tobacco on the island of Ireland?
- What more should be done to disincentivise the supply, sale and consumption of illicit goods on the island of Ireland?
- How has illicit trade impacted on income within the supply chain?
- Have traders noticed levels of illicit trade increasing as the UK’s exit from the EU draws closer?
- Have you noticed increases in the volume of counterfeit or smuggled goods in the market?
- How could cross-border co-operation be improved further?
- What specific challenges are likely to arise were the UK to leave the EU without an agreement in October 2019?
- Were there any other new powers you would like to see implemented?
The RAS group were confident that they effectively got across their key points on cross-border solid fuel smuggling while expressing a general frustration about the lack of enforcement of current legislation and the general lack of knowledge by those in a position of power and the general public as to the consequences of cross-border smuggling. There was agreement by all attending that a national cross-agency public education campaign was required and that the Parliamentary group’s final report would reflect this requirement. RAS stressed the importance of the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill currently before the Dail as well as the need for extra resources and better cross-border communication.
The Group’s final report will be presented to the October Plenary session of British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, after which it will be published. The Parliamentary group had earlier held meetings with Revenue, HMRC, An Garda Síochána and PSNI.