West Cork Garda Division hosted a multi-agency Seminar in Kinsale yesterday, 17th April involving input from Revenue’s Customs Service and the Irish Naval Service.
The initiative was to promote vigilance from coastal communities in West Cork and a range of organisations and agencies that operate at sea and along the coast, for the prevention and detection of illegal drug importation.
Coastal Watch was first launched 30 years ago, The multi-agencies joined forces once again to re-launch the coastal initiative and reinforce their commitment to prevent smuggling from entering the country from the South and West Cork coastal region.
An Garda Síochána, Revenue’s Customs Service and the Irish Naval Service delivered presentations to around 150 attendees, in relation to each agency’s role and the complementary relationship that exists between all agencies in the fight against drug smuggling in the maritime domain. Attendees received information about risk indicators and previous case studies of successful drug interdictions, where information received from the public was critical to stopping drugs reaching vulnerable communities.
Photo: Irish Naval Service via Twitter @naval_service
Speaking at the event, Garda Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said, “The purpose of the seminar was to focus the attention of the statutory and voluntary organizations along with farming groups, coastal communities, commercial and fishing industry and all those who use our seas for business and pleasure purposes on how they can assist the statutory agencies in “Keeping Drugs at Bay”. With a multi-disciplinary approach by everybody who attended todays seminar, it will mean a formidable force in ensuring that our coastline is not used for drug importation, or if it is that there are many eyes that will report unusual activity along our coastline. While Coastal Watch has been in existence over 30 years, it has proven to be a success, however personnel in organisations change, landowners near coastline change and communities change with passage of time, therefore this seminar was about re-energising Coastal Watch in Cork West Garda Division and ensuring that Coastal Watch is a success”.
Captain Brian Fitzgerald of the Irish Navy said “there are problems with supply lines getting into the country via the sea, and we have to police them.”
Andrew Ryan from Revue’s Customs Service said “what we generally find is shipments of large quantities of cocaine or other drugs moves from source countries such as South America, West Africa, shipped to Spain and end up on the Coast of Ireland, and Coastal Watch will help us deter these shipments and prevent smuggling in this coastal area.”
The Coastal Community around West Cork have a huge part to play in Coastal Watch, along with state agencies, and when all the agencies working alongside all the communities along the coast, we certainly can make an impact in protecting our coastline against drug smuggling.
Some of the risk indicators that members of the public are requested to be on the lookout for are:
* suspicious activity in relation to persons or vehicles
* ships and yachts sighted in remote areas
* crew making landings in remote areas
* unusual objects at sea or ashore
* ships away from their normal shipping lanes
* vessels operating at night without lights
* packages floating in the sea, lying on the beach or hidden close to the shore.
Members of the public are requested to report any unusual activity to any of the following numbers:
Customs Drugs Watch – Confidential Freephone number 1800 295 295
Bandon Garda Station 023-8852200
Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111
Emergency Number 112/999
Naval Operations Centre 021 – 4864707