Ireland has a “thirst” for cocaine and has been singled out as a potential major market for illegal substances, according to a former British Army officer.
Yesterday’s raid by the Army Rangers Wing on the MV Matthew has led to the largest drug seizure in the history of the State, as officials estimate the drugs found onboard the ship have a street value of around €157 million and weigh over Some 25 people were onboard the ship and Gardaí declined to comment about how many could be arrested.
Former British Army Officer Duncan Bullivant told The Hard Shoulder the use of cocaine in Europe “has gone through the roof” in recent years.
“We know that various groups, particularly Eastern European groups, are trying to establish Ireland as another major market,” he said.
“Clearly it has a smaller population, but Ireland has a thirst for the product.
“The demand is one that is increasing throughout Northern Europe, and supply is unabated despite billions of dollars having been spent over a number of decades to try and reduce production in Latin America.”
Mr Bullivant said there has been “plenty of arguments” in recent years to increase Ireland’s coastal defences.
“It's going to be commensurate with Ireland's ability to pay for it,” he said.
“There’s no point in breaking the budget, just to achieve vanity projects – what matters is international cooperation and coordination.
“No one nation can do this all on their own.”
'What an incredible feat'
Former Army Ranger Cathal Barry TD commended the multi-agency operation between An Garda Síochána, Revenue and the Defence Forces.
“Just look at the Air Corp dimension,” he said. “What an incredible feat of flying and airmanship.
“No sane pilot would float a helicopter 14 nautical miles off the coast to position that helicopter between two steel beams and on treacherous seas, with a captain of a ship who's trying to do the nautical equivalent of a handbrake turn.
“If you look at the video footage, the hover is perfect - he didn't flinch an inch.
“That just shows the quality of the people we have."
You can listen back here: