‘Escalation of cross border organised crime in two years’

editorial image

NIO Minister Andrew Robathan lamented Sinn Féin and the SDLP’s non-support for the National Crime Agency (NCA) when asked by DUP MP Gregory Campbell about an escalation in cross-border organised crime.

Mr Campbell said there have been numerous incidences in Northern Ireland in the past two or three years involving organised criminal gangs on the border.

He said the criminality included “fuel smuggling, fuel laundering, and money laundering, and that has escalated over the past two years.”

He asked: “Will he outline the consequences of a failure to have the NCA fully operational in Northern Ireland?”

Mr Robathan replied: “It has been said that serious gaps are emerging. As the hon. Gentleman will understand, these are devolved matters, but we are keen that the NCA should be able to pursue organised and serious crime in Northern Ireland, and there is no difference between us on that at all.

“Two parties in the Executive are holding things up, however, and I ask why they are doing that and why we do not all want to pursue serious criminality in the Province.”

Both nationalist parties have opposed the extension of the NCA to Northern Ireland.

Londonderry MP Mark Durkan has expressed concern that the new police superforce to tackle organised crime, strengthen borders, fight fraud and protect children would lead to the appointment of special constables in Northern Ireland for the first time since the B Specials.

Mr Durkan also worried that the proposed NCA would operate as another force alongside the PSNI and that officers will be able to hold positions in both.

And that it could tell he PSNI what to do by issuing ‘compulsion orders’ through the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) and that the activities of the NCA would be put beyond the scope of the board.