I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 to 128, inclusive, together.
The Government has been clear that it is determined in the context of Brexit, deal or 'no deal', to avoid the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland. I am assured by Revenue that in line with that policy it has not purchased or leased land or premises nor has it any such plans, within 30km of the Border.
In preparation for Brexit, Revenue is, recruiting an additional 600 staff across a range of grades and is confident that this full additional resource will be in place by 31 October. Revenue has confirmed to me that these staff have not been specifically assigned to anti-smuggling work and that they are being recruited for the purposes of facilitating and supporting legitimate trade to get ready for Brexit.
I am aware that Revenue continues to adjust its recruitment and training and deployment plans in response to business needs, including Brexit-related developments. Revenue advises me that it will recruit and deploy resources based on the evolving business needs and to quickly confront any risks as they emerge. I remain open to consider any request from Revenue for additional resources if required.
The Deputy will be aware that given the increasing likelihood of a no deal Brexit, intensive discussions are taking place involving the Government, the EU Commission and our EU partners as to how we can meet the shared twin objectives of protecting the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it, and prevent physical infrastructure at the border. This work is looking at necessary checks to preserve Ireland’s full participation in the Single Market and Customs Union. Revenue is providing the necessary technical expertise and assistance to facilitate those discussions.
Revenue has assured me that it already implements a comprehensive risk-based intervention programme to identify, target and disrupt all forms of cross-border smuggling and criminality. Revenue’s priority focus on such activity will continue to be the case regardless of the eventual outcome of Brexit and the assignment of any additional resources will be determined (by Revenue) in the light of developments.
Revenue’s risk-based approach to illegal cross-border activity is, as the Deputy will be aware, facilitated and supported by very close cooperation with other agencies of the State, including An Garda Síochána, and also with colleagues in Northern Ireland through the North-South Joint Agency Task Force. I am satisfied that Revenue’s focus on cross- border smuggling is appropriate and well targeted, and I know that it is keeping the matter under active review as Brexit developments become clearer.