Written Answers - Organised Crime

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 733 No. 4

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  245.  Deputy Thomas P. Broughan  Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   if any Garda investigation has been undertaken into alleged criminality associated with some operations of the collection and sale of used clothes; the number of used clothes companies or groups in operation here; if these operations are licensed; if not, the reason for same; if there are any regulations governing the operation of used clothes collections; if he is considering any new legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13345/11]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are aware of the potential involvement of organised crime gangs in the collection and sale of used clothes and that intelligence-led operations are in place to target and disrupt any such activity. Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act 2001, which provides for the offence of making gain or causing loss by deception, may apply to the type of activity referred to by the Deputy.

Certain collectors of clothing may attempt to convey the impression that they are charitable in nature, when this may not actually be the case. The Revenue Commissioners publish alist of organisations that have qualified for charitable tax exemptions on their website,www.revenue.ie. I recommend that members of the public check this list if they have concerns about the authenticity of any collector. The Charities Act 2009 will, when fully commenced, address this situation.

The new statutory regulatory regime for charities will be a Charities Regulatory Authority with extensive regulatory powers and a publicly accessible Register of Charities, upon which any charity operating in Ireland must be registered. It will be an offence for any organisation that is not on the Register of Charities to describe itself or its activities in such a way as to lead the public to assume that the organisation is a registered charity. This will limit the scope for non-charities to suggest that they are charitable in nature. By checking the register, the [834]public will be in a position to distinguish between charitable and non-charitable collections and to make better informed decisions about which collections they choose to support. The commencement of this provision is contingent upon both the new authority and the Register of Charities being in place, and my Department is rolling out an implementation plan for the Act. I have no role in the licensing of commercial operations of the type referred to.

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