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Customs work ‘exploded’ as drug hauls rise, PAC told

Last year was an “exceptional” year for Revenue seizures “and the headline was probably cocaine”, its chief has told the Public Accounts Committee.

Niall Cody cited the record seizure of cocaine on board the MV Matthew in September as “a really good example of inter-agency cooperation”.

More than two tonnes of cocaine worth €157m was recovered when the vessel was boarded off the south coast.

Pointing to “a very significant level of seizures”, My Cody also noted the recovery of cocaine, worth €21m, at Foynes Port “a couple of days before Christmas”, along with two hauls in Rosslare just days apart.

“Rosslare used to have six ferries in the week in winter and ten during the week in the summer, and now there’s 36 ferries weekly,” he said.

“So that opens up a whole new operation,” Mr Cody added.

“On one level our customs work has just exploded,” he told the committee.

When Mr Cody last addressed PAC a year ago, Revenue was managing 44 million import entries compared to one million before Brexit.

“Last year we had 79 million import entries,” he said.

“But in those legitimate entries is hidden contraband, counterfeit, drugs and cigarettes,” he told Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon.

Asked if Revenue is sufficiently staffed, Mr Cody took Rosslare “as an example”.

“Before Brexit we would have had 18” positions operating “24/7”, he said.

“So that 18 is now 80,” he revealed.

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