A COASTAL Watch seminar in Kinsale last week heard that the West Cork coast – with 436 miles of indented coastline – has the most drug importations within the State.
Up to 150 attended the seminar at the Trident Hotel where they received presentations from An Garda Síochána, Revenue’s Customs Service and the Irish Naval Service.
These presentations outlined each of their roles and the complementary relationship that exists between the agencies fighting against drug smuggling along the West Cork coastline.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan of the Cork West Division said the purpose of the seminar was to ‘re-focus and re-energise’ the Coastal Watch project, and help keep drugs at bay.
‘While Coastal Watch has been in existence over 30 years, it has proven to be a success. However, personnel in organisations change, landowners near coastlines change with the passage of time, and therefore this seminar is about re-energising Coastal Watch in the Cork West Garda Division,’ said Chief Supt Cadogan.
Sgt James O’Donovan, the newly appointed crime prevention officer for the division, pointed out that the first knowledge of drug importation into the area occurred in 1987 with the seizure of 750kg of cannabis in Schull.
‘Almost year-on-year after that, right up until 1999, there were importations coming into the country along this coast,’ said Sgt O’Donovan, who added that communities in these areas are key to the prevention and detection of illegal drugs.
‘We are always seeking their assistance in relation to suspicious activity with boats, vehicles and people, and we would ask them to pass that information on to us where we can interact with other agencies from the point of view of intercepting illegal drug importation into the country,’ said Sgt O’Donovan.
‘If you see something suspicious, make the phone call, don’t doubt yourself, and let us – or Revenue or the navy – make those necessary adjustments to the resources so the detections of illegal drugs can be maintained.’
Andrew Ryan, maritime operations manager from Customs, pointed to the ‘risk indicators’ that they have now published in card form which will be distributed to communities.
‘Members of the community know the local vessels, so if they see something out of place they can just pick up the phone and contact us and we will respond,’ said Mr Ryan.