A hard border in Ireland could prompt a surge in smuggling activity if one side has higher prices. Irish politician Declan Breathnach said smuggling increases would see the border go “back to El Paso”. He said: “Where there are differences in product price in either direction then the movement of illicit goods will increase.
“Furthermore, the ordinary punter will shop with their feet, based on price. They will buy all their groceries where it is cheapest.”
The Retailers Against Smuggling group has also revealed border fears due to Brexit.
Chairman Benny Gilsenan told the Irish Times: “Retailers are genuinely concerned about the impact Brexit, a fluctuating sterling and the possibility of trade tariffs will have on smuggling along the border.
“Currently there is no deterrent to purchasing smuggled goods and they are being illegally traded on the doorsteps of legitimate businesses.
“The illegal cigarette and fuel trade is booming in Ireland and the Government needs to do more to rid the country of these black markets by imposing a minimum fine on conviction for smugglers and providing extra resources for law enforcement authorities.”
A Government source said technology could be used to deter smugglers.
It comes after hauliers warned Northern Ireland could become a paradise for smugglers under the Government’s no deal Brexit plans.
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement Irish goods entering the Northern Ireland market will not be subject to tariffs.
But Irish products entering the rest of the UK would face high tariffs on a range of food products.
Seamus Leheny of the Freight Transport Association said: “You create this place almost like the Wild West, you become that neighbour from hell, both for the EU and Great Britain.
“It is an avenue to get goods into Great Britain avoiding checks or tariffs.”