Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Pig Smuggling.

15.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will give an estimate of the total number of pigs smuggled into the Republic from the Six Counties in the past six months.

I would not find it possible to give any such reliable estimate.

Has the Minister seen a report in the papers in the last few days stating that smuggling had now reached a figure of about 10,000 pigs per week from Northern Ireland? Does the Minister believe that this is so, or is it half true? If it is true, is it not a serious situation?

There have been various reports in the papers. Their estimates of this smuggling business have varied from 1,000 per week to 10,000 per week. As I have indicated in the reply to the question, I am not in a position to give any reliable estimate as to what the volume of this trade is at the moment. I would certainly feel there is such a trade going on. The cause of this is that our prices here are more attractive than the prices which can be obtained for certain weights of pigs on the other side of the border. We have had almost continuous contact with the Revenue Commissioners, whose business it is to try to prevent this practice. However, I must repeat that I have not any reliable estimate of what is really taking place.

Surely the Revenue Commissioners must give some report to the Minister as to the numbers being smuggled?

They would not know. It is just not possible to know.

Would the Minister be able to give information as to the number of inferior-type pigs which have been coming in large numbers into some of the factories?

This is presupposing knowledge we have not got. If we had knowledge to that degree there would not be any difficulty preventing the practice.

I have asked has the Minister received reports that inferior types of pigs have been imported in fairly large numbers and brought to certain factories at various periods? If this is true, surely it should be possible to check on them?

I am not aware of this practice to any degree.

Does the Minister propose to take any steps to stop this smuggling or is the Minister prepared to close his eyes to it? Does he think it is a good thing to allow it to carry on?

It is very easy to make the suggestions of "closing eyes". It is generally accepted that smuggling of pigs is taking place, just as there is smuggling of other items every day of every year, and as there has been since Adam was a little fellow and as long as there has been a border there.

Adam believed in free trade.

I am sure he did.