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Cross-border policing corridor to target criminal gangs and dissidents

The PSNI and gardaí could be allowed to operate on both sides of the border – several miles into each other’s jurisdictions – in a bid to fight back against ongoing criminal activities that are blighting the area.

The move would allow officers from both forces to target fuel laundering and cigarette and tobacco smuggling, as well as dissident republican activities, in a new ‘corridor’.

A Kerry-based TD says that those behind such criminal activities are being open and blatant about what they are doing and are able to “carry on with impunity”.

Their activities in the area of south Armagh and border areas of County Louth and Monaghan are costing hundreds of millions of revenue to be lost to both the British and Irish governments.

Now Fine Gael senator Paul Coghlan has told the Seanad that policing in south Armagh and these other areas is not sufficient to deal with the task at hand.

He believes that a ‘corridor’ should be in existence in which both northern and southern police forces can function on either side of the border to tackle the crime gangs and dissidents head on.

He said the criminals were operating with a proliferation of blue alert signs and the public were being invited to report to them rather than the PSNI and gardaí.

“Do they think they are the law in that region?,” asked Senator Coghlan, who chairs a high-level committee set up to probe cross-border criminality and established by both the Irish and British governments.

He added: “How can this be tolerated in a democratic society?”

The two governments will be asked to approve the plan when the British-Irish Parliamentary Association meets in Cheltenham this week.

Other aspects of a report by Senator Coghlan, going forward for approval tomorrow (Monday) and on Tuesday, include a “significant increase” in policing resources in south Armagh.

It also advocates the taking down of signs which have allegedly been put up to urge local people to contact to report incidents of crime within their own areas.

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