Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Hard Border would hand a huge boost to smugglers'

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

The "harder" the Border with the North, the greater the pay-offs for organised crime, leading security experts have warned.

They said the prospect of 'regulatory divergence' caused by Brexit could create new incentives for terrorist gangs already involved in cross-border smuggling.

And while fuel, alcohol and tobacco have been smuggled across the Border in vast quantities for decades, they highlighted that if the UK leaves the European Medicines Agency, smuggling pharmaceuticals could become more attractive.

Prof Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, issued the warning at an event at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin yesterday. Along with terrorism expert Rajan Basra, he has written a report 'The Crime-Terror Nexus in the United Kingdom and Ireland'.

"With Brexit, and the prospect of increasing 'regulatory divergence' between north and south, it is vitally important to avoid creating additional incentives for smuggling...Put simply, the 'harder' the Border, the greater the pay-offs for organised crime," they said.

Prof Neumann said many of those operating in the North could be classified as "hybrid criminal-terrorist organisations".

"It is not clear any more if they are principally motivated by a political agenda or if crime is the end in and of itself," said Prof Neumann.

Irish Independent

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