Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr. Alan Shatter TD and Justice Minister David Ford MLA  have today hosted the annual cross border organised crime seminar.

The event provides an opportunity for government and law enforcement agencies from across the island of Ireland to share ideas, discuss emerging issues and threats and develop plans for future operational activity.

The Ministers were joined by PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris and Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan from An Garda Siochana who published the Cross Border Organised Crime Assessment 2012.

The Assessment provides an overview of organised crime in both jurisdictions and outlines some of the cross-border successes.

David Ford said: "This seminar is an important date in the diary for those working across the island of Ireland to tackle organised crime.  Both jurisdictions have longstanding and strong links and this seminar provides a vital opportunity to take stock and plan for the future.

"The level of cooperation that exists ensures that considerable effort is being made on both sides of the border to disrupt and dismantle organised crime gangs who bring such harm to our community.

"The Threat Assessment outlines how human trafficking remains a priority area for both jurisdictions.   The levels and potency of illegal drugs, fuel laundering and tobacco fraud also feature heavily along with emerging threats such as an increase in cybercrime.

"As Justice Minister and chair of the Organised Crime task Force I stand with my colleagues north and south in our fight against organised crime.  Our response and resolve will no doubt be further strengthened by today’s seminar.  To assist us we continue to ask the public for their vigilance and help.  Organised crime gangs exist because of public demand for their goods and services.  I would urge everyone to think about the impact these gangs have on our society, to reject the services they offer and report what they know to the police or to Crimestoppers."

Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD said: "It is vitally important that we continue to nurture, and build on, the very valuable levels of trust and cooperation that exist between our Departments and our law enforcement agencies, north and south. This close relationship and the strategic partnerships that it fosters are a very valuable commodity in today’s fight against organised crime. Our Conference today affords us the opportunity to reaffirm the value of that relationship and the commitment of both Governments to ensuring that we do all that we can do to disrupt organised crime gangs on this island."

Minister Shatter added: "Organised crime comes in many guises. It will manifest itself wherever there is the opportunity to make financial gain. It will have no regard to the consequences for our communities, for the pain and suffering caused to those who become its victims or for the disruption caused to, and interference in, our legitimate economy." 

Minister Shatter highlighting the link between organised crime activity in both jurisdictions and the activities of paramilitary gangs said: "All the trappings or orations in the world will not disguise the fact that what we are dealing with are criminal gangs.  Like many, I resent the fact that these groups want to characterise themselves as 'dissidents'.  There was a long and honourable tradition of dissidents in totalitarian regimes.  But what these people dissent from is democracy itself and the rule of law.  They are not just people who ignore the democratically expressed wishes of the people.  They are prepared to engage in the most serious types of criminality to fund their lifestyles. They are not dissidents but criminal terrorists."

Jointly publishing the Cross Border Organised Crime Assessment 2012, Assistant Chief Constable, Crime Operations Department, Drew Harris:
"This report provides a valuable analysis of the nature and extent of cross border organised crime, the real dangers created by it and how law enforcement partners are dealing with these challenges. But I believe our most important, collective challenge is to change community attitudes towards organised crime. When you buy dodgy cigarettes, cheap fuel or counterfeit goods, you are providing funds for organised crime - for drugs gangs, for human trafficking, for terrorism. There is a clear link between money generated from these illegal commodities and organised crime. People need to understand the link between their own actions and the fight against organised crime. By saying 'no', by providing information to the authorities, people can help law enforcement agencies who are working to keep them safe."

Deputy Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan said: "The theme of this year’s seminar is ‘Organised Crime – No Passport Required’ which explicitly depicts the difficulties faced by Law Enforcement Agencies in policing border areas. As criminals have always sought to exploit the border to further their criminal activities, we too as Law Enforcement Agencies must utilise all tools at our disposal, including cooperation coupled with a concerted effort to bring these criminals to justice.

"This seminar provides us with an opportunity to discuss emerging threats/trends, strategies and share knowledge. It will highlight areas and relationships that we can employ to our mutual benefit and the benefit of the public in general."

10 October 2012