The maritime unit of Customs and Excise in Waterford is equipped with a sea-going boat to combat smuggling and particularly the importation of drugs, which is the cause of considerable problems in the city and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, because of a disagreement among staff the boat has lain idle since August 1994. In the wake of the Maastricht Treaty the duties of Customs and Excise officers have changed in many cases but there has been a reluctance to accept change by some staff.
In this instance a dispute has arisen as to who will operate the Customs and Excise boat. Pre-Maastricht it would have been the duty of the outside staff but post-Maastricht the duties may be shared between indoor and outdoor staff. I think we are all aware that as a result of the passage of the Maastricht Treaty Customs and Excise staff were reassigned to various duties; in particular they were removed from the Border and assigned to other duties.
In Waterford the outdoor staff want to retain their duties and do not want the staff who previously worked indoor to share in the performance of those duties. As a consequence the boat and gear which cost approximately £60,000 have not been used for the past ten months. In addition, a jeep for hauling the boat, which cost approximately £25,000, is also lying idle. The cost of storing the equipment in question is in the region of £8,000 to £10,000 per annum. There are two major scandals involved here: first, a waste of public money and, second, a reduction in the capacity of Customs and Excise to prevent the smuggling of drugs. As I understand it, no blame attaches to senior management in Waterford who have done everything in their power to resolve the problem. I ask the Minister to intercede immediately to ensure this scandalous position is rectified without delay.