I propose to take Questions Nos. 20, 32 and 67 together.
The issuing of instructions to customs and excise staff is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. However, I am advised by the commissioners that instructions were issued to customs and excise staff following the European Court's ruling on Ireland's 48-hour rule. Staff have been instructed to continue to operate and enforce the 48-hour rule restrictions until further notice.
Accordingly, travellers who have not been outside the State for 48 hours can import dutiable goods only on payment of the appropriate duty. Travellers who have been outside the State for 48 hours or more as heretofore, will, qualify for their full allowance entitlements. In the immediate aftermath of the European Court's decision customs staff were allowed to exercise some discretion — as is normal — where they were reasonably satisfied that travellers had genuinely acted on the assumption that the 48 hours restriction had been removed. This discretion no longer applies.
As the 48-hour rule continues in place for the time being, the question of damage to employment in the Border counties as a result of the European Court ruling does not arise. It is because of the serious implications for this country that the Government are actively pursuing the matter with the EC Commission with a view to obtaining a mutual agreement for modified arrangements to enable Ireland to prevent the abuses and distortions of trade which had occurred up to 1987.