Date Published: 29-Sep-2009
A retailer in Galway City has lodged a complaint to the Customs division of the Revenue Commissioners about a postman who is allegedly selling cut-price cigarettes while he delivers the post.
The newsagent who made the complaint has experienced a drop of up to 40 per cent in his takings in tobacco sales since the part-time postman started flogging the half-priced packs while on his rounds in the area.
The practice has become a major problem for retailers, who believe they lost nearly half a million in revenue to the black market in 2008. The cigarettes are sourced in Eastern Europe, where a pack costs just 74c, or are counterfeit brands made in the Far East.
Some of Ireland’s leading brands are being copied by counterfeiters, complete with forged Irish tax stamp and dual language health warning.
They are then sold on for €3-€4, half the price of a pack sold over the counter here.
There have been numerous examples of illegal sales on the black market in the last few years. Pizza delivery staff in Dublin, an insurance salesman in Limerick, a real estate agent in the Westmeath and Offaly areas, have all been reported to customs officials for selling tobacco. It has also become increasingly prevalent on market days in large towns.
Retailers against Smuggling (RAS) is a lobby group that has been set up to curb the practice which is funded by tobacco companies and representing retailers and major chains such as SuperValu and Topaz garages. They claim up to 10,000 jobs could be lost through the phenomenon. Overall cigarette sales are down 30 per cent, but they say there is no corresponding fall in the number of smokers. Some 30 per cent of traditional newsagent revenues come from cigarette sales.
Spokesman Paddy Donohoe says smuggling tobacco is extremely lucrative with little or no risk attached. One 40ft container of cigarettes from Ukraine could result in profits of amost €2m.
While penalties for drugs smuggling attract jail terms, there has not been a single custodial sentence for smuggling tobacco in Ireland yet, with just minimal fines for those caught, he said.
The Government has increased the excise on cigarettes by more than €1 in the last three budgets, which is fuelling the illegal trade in Ireland, which has the highest price in the EU for cigarettes.
Research conducted by RAS found that in the first six months of this year, there were 51 seizures of smuggled cigarettes. In all, 29 of those seizures involved foreign nationals.
There have been just seven prosecutions for those caught selling counterfeit cigarettes between January and June – six of them foreign shopkeepers or traders. Overall cigarette sales are down 30 per cent, but they say there is no corresponding fall in the number of smokers.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.