GARDAÍ are appealing for the help of the public in the fight against smuggling along Cork coasts.
“It is so important that people, if they have a sense that something is not right — make the call and we’ll investigate.”
That’s the appeal from Togher Superintendent John Deasy following the renewed emphasis on the Cork City Division Coastal Watch.
The multi-agency initiative is aimed at preventing and detecting illegal drug importation by promoting vigilance from coastal communities and organisations and agencies that operate at sea and along Cork’s coast and harbours.
An Garda Síochána, Revenue’s Customs Service, and the Irish Naval Service have committed to developing each agency’s role and the complementary relationships among all agencies in the fight against drug smuggling.
One of the aims of Coastal Watch is to raise community awareness about risk indicators and previous successes where information received from the public was critical to stopping drugs reaching vulnerable communities.
“Obviously, if we’re coming across significant seizures,” Supt Deasy told The Echo. “There are other attempts to get drugs into the country as well maybe that we may not have been successful with, so that’s why we have reinvigorated the Coastal Watch for the Cork City harbour because we see the benefit of an interagency approach.
“It’s also important that coastal communities are aware of the potential of drugs coming through any harbour or port.
“We have to watch the coastline, especially when you consider we have a coastal area that is a bit unique in that there are a lot of opportunities for people to come off the shipping lanes and to operate in areas and historically our area around Cork City and county has been a favoured landing spot.
“This is the time of year where people take to the water, and there are a lot of leisure crafts out and people walking coastal areas, and we’re just asking people to look out for any suspicious activity. The people are the eyes and ears of An Garda Síochána.
“They see what’s happening and we’ve always worked very, very closely with communities — and communities along the coast are very vigilant.”
Supt Deasy appealed to people not to hesitate in picking up the phone to the gardaí if they spot something suspicious.
“If there’s something in an area that doesn’t seem right, common sense dictates that if it doesn’t seem right to them it’s probably something that needs to be checked out,” he said.
“If it’s all above board then that’s fine, but if it’s not, it gives us the opportunity to investigate.”
Members of the public are requested to be on the lookout for suspicious activity in relation to persons or vehicles, ships, and yachts sighted in remote areas, vessels operating at night without lights and packages floating in the sea, lying on the beach, or hidden close to the shore.
Garda Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said the initiative is all about keeping drugs at bay.
“The purpose of the Coastal Watch launch is to focus the attention of the statutory and voluntary organisations along with farming groups, coastal communities, commercial and fishing industry and all those who use our seas for business and pleasure purposes on how they can assist the statutory agencies in ‘Keeping Drugs at Bay’,” he said.
“Coastal Watch has been in existence for over 30 years, and it has proved to be a success. However, personnel in organisations change, landowners near coastline change, and communities change with the passage of time.
“Therefore today is about re-energising Coastal Watch in Cork City Garda Division and ensuring that Coastal Watch is a success.”