Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Pig Smuggling from Northern Ireland.

29.

andMr. Fox asked the Minister for Finance if he is prepared to recommend to the Revenue Commissioners that extra preventive staff be employed to deal with smuggling of pigs from Northern Ireland.

Customs patrols in border areas have, in fact, been strengthened in recent weeks. I am not satisfied, however, that a further increase in the number of officers employed on this work could be expected to yield results commensurate with the expense involved.

Is the Minister aware that this pig smuggling is becoming a very serious problem? I would like to know from the Minister if the onus is on the people who own the pigs to prove where they obtained them? I am thinking of a particular case when the customs patrol car stopped a lorry-load of pigs and asked the driver where he had got them.

I am not in a position to say. My information is that this traffic has decreased very considerably in the last week or so.

Is the Minister aware that even RTE have apprehended more smugglers inside a fortnight than our customs officials did in months. They have reported these people to the guards at Mullingar and different places and as a result these smugglers are now being summoned?

They have done more to prevent smuggling in two weeks than the customs officials have done in the last couple of years.

I think the old smuggler on the Border must be getting very soft if he allows himself to become a feature of an RTE production.

The Minister has an affection for smugglers.

This smuggling business has become very highly organised. These people are having special houses built in close proximity to the Border.

The pig corridor.

These people are getting geared up. They do not intend to fold up in a short time. They intend to make big business out of this racket.

Is the Minister aware that were it not for the smuggling going on at the present time some of our bacon factories would have to close down?

Would it be possible to have all bonhams tattooed? In that way only tattooed pigs would be accepted in our bacon factories. Smuggling would then be wiped out. If a person is caught in any part of the State with goods produced outside the State there is an onus on him to prove they were imported legally and that duty was paid on them.

As the Deputy knows one bonham is very like another.

Deputy Coughlan has put his finger on the trouble. The proper thing to do is to examine the pig industry on this side of the Border because there must be a racket in it somewhere. If it were not for the smuggling at the moment some of our bacon factories would close down. Surely, the proper way to deal with this is not to prevent smuggling but——

That is a seperate question.

I quite appreciate that the Deputy is not against smuggling as such.

I did not reckon the Minister was judge and jury. I thought he was Minister for Finance.

I do not think it can be called a racket for us to pay our farmers more for pigs than is paid in Northern Ireland.

Is it true smuggling is necessary to keep the bacon factories going?

That is a separate question.

It is not true.

Does the Minister agree these houses are being built in close proximity to the Border for this sole purpose? Everybody knows they are not being used to fatten pigs from the Republic.

The Deputy has already asked these questions.

But I got no reply.

I have no information that houses are being built for that purpose.

If information were made available to the Minister, what action would he take?

I would ruthlessly investigate.