Local Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey has warned that with drug-landing operations being stymied along the Cork coast, smugglers may turn their attentions to Waterford.
Describing the seizure reported off Castletownbere as “an impressive demonstration of the effectiveness of combined operations
by our national law enforcement agencies and shows what can be achieved by international co-operation against drug trafficking,” the Portlaw politician says “Waterford people have always had a special affinity with the Irish Navy and have a real sense of pride in the work carried out by them. As a Waterford man, I felt a special pride in the valour of the Naval Service in this operation.”
However, he added, “There have now been two major drug seizures off the west Cork coast in just over a year, and it is highly likely that drug barons may now be looking to other parts of the Irish coast to land their lethal cargoes and may turn their attention to Waterford in particular.
“With busy sea lanes off Ireland’s south coast, they may seek out isolated parts of the county Waterford coast for new routes into our country. I have campaigned long and hard against anti-social behaviour, especially in Waterford City, and am well aware of the how the drug menace affects us all. However we are not powerless in the fight against the war on drugs – there is something we can all do.
“Both the Customs Service and the Gardaí maintain free phone lines for people to report suspicious activities. By taking an active role, noting the numbers and calling the authorities if you see anything unusual or suspicious, we can help keep drugs off our streets. If criminals know that local communities are on the look-out, they may think twice about using Waterford as a route for their murderous trade,” he concluded.
Back in the mid-1990s ten bales of cannabis resin with a street value of some £3 million were recovered from the seabed off the southeast coast. Then Fine Gael TD Austin Deasy claimed at the time that the Wexford/Waterford coast was now the main point of entry for drug smuggling.
He noted that it wasn’t the Irish Navy that discovered the bales of, but fishermen in the area. “We can be thankful that they are not prone to smoking pot,” he quipped.
*The Customs Drugs phone number is 1800 29 52 65. The Garda Confidential line is 1800 666 111.