Gardaí and Revenue have confirmed €157m worth of drugs have been seized off the coast of Co. Cork, following a dramatic few days.
Over two tonnes of cocaine, on a cargo ship which was apprehended during a multi-agency operation, amounts to the largest drugs haul in the history of the State.
The cargo ship, the MV Matthew, which left South America last month with a crew of about 25, is docked in Cork Harbour after being seized by members of the Army Ranger Wing.
Those operating the ship are described as part of a “murderous cartel.”
Assistant Garda Commissioner Justin Kelly says the extremely complex multi-agency operation comes as a significant hit for international drug gangs..
”This is a hugely significant operation and it shows our unrelenting determination to disrupt and dismantle networks which are determined to bring drugs into our country.”
Meanwhile, a fishing trawler, associated with this mothership, remains stranded off the coast of Wexford, after it came to the attention of emergency services on Sunday.
Three men remain in garda custody in Wexford, who will be central to the investigation as it continues.
Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wanted to commend the “phenomenal work” done by the gardaí, Defence Forces and Revenue customs officers.
Mr Varadkar said it was perhaps the biggest interdiction of illegal drugs in Irish history and “that wouldn’t have happened without the gardaí, the Defence Forces, the Revenue Commissioners and indeed international partners”.
“It is an example of the kind of work that they are doing,” he said.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also commended gardaí, the Defence Forces and Naval Service for the “successful operation”.
“It demonstrates the need to invest in naval capacity and the wider Defence Forces,” she said. “The truth is our naval services cannot as we speak monitor our seas effectively and this is due to decades of under investment.
“At present, only two navy vessels can be put to sea at any one time and this is because of staffing shortages, and that in turn is because, despite all of the commendations that are regularly made, the reality is that personnel are not paid properly. Their terms and conditions are in many cases appalling,” she said.