Organised crime and the black economy are costing the retail sector millions of euro a week, a retail group has warned.
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS), which represents almost 3,000 independent retailers in the fight against crime, made the claim after Revenue seized over 10 million black-market cigarettes with a retail value of almost €5m.
The group said that some crime gangs were making up to €3m a week from the black market.
RAS spokesman Benny Gilsenan said: “These criminals are laughing in our face and are really putting it up to the Government by smuggling in ‘Don Corleone’ cigarettes.
“As we struggle to keep our businesses going, they are bringing in massive amounts of illegal products and making huge profits. The size of this haul shows just how lucrative the illegal cigarette trade is for them.
“The public needs to be aware that by buying illegal brands like ‘Don Corleone’ they are supporting Irish and international organised crime gangs – we hope that this is an offer people will refuse.”
Mr Gilsenan owns and runs a shop in Dublin’s north inner city.
Among the measures that RAS is calling for to deal with the illegal cigarette trade is the imposition of a minimum fine on conviction for smugglers, extra resources for law enforcement authorities to tackle the black market and a ban on sales of cigarettes at markets and fairs.