Local businessman believed to be behind country’s illegal cigarette trade

The Modega cigarettes seized at Castlebellingham last year

The Modega cigarettes seized at Castlebellingham last year

A local businessman – nicknamed ‘the Jackal’ – has been identified by the Sunday World newspaper as the new ‘Mr Big’ of Ireland’s booming cigarette smuggling trade.

According to the paper, the 44-year-old is believed to have netted up to €20 million flooding the country with fake fags.

He had remained under the radar for years until an incredible brush with international terror group Al Qaeda unwittingly turned him into public enemy number one in Ireland’s war on cigarette smugglers.

When a terrorist cell attacked a ship in the Suez Canal, authorities discovered among its other cargo, a shipment of nine million illicit cigarettes bound for Ireland.

The Criminal Assets Bureau linked the haul to ‘The Jackal’ and launched a probe into his financial affairs.

The suspected smuggling kingpin has no convictions for terrorist related activity but sources say he is closely linked to the Real IRA and pays a sizeable portion of his enormous profits to the terror group.

The man is reported to have been shipping in contraband on an industrial level for years. He buys containers of cheap fags in the Far East for €20,000 and makes more than €1.6 million profit on each.

The businessman, who lives outside Dundalk with what the paper described as his ‘glamorous wife’, has been buying up properties and recently purchased more than 100 acres of land near Dublin.

According to The Sunday World, the couple are regularly spotted enjoying nights out and friends believe they have simply bucked the economic trend, having emerged unscathed despite owning retail businesses that have been hard hit by the recession.

However, ‘The Jackal’, is supposedly soon to be issued with a massive seven-figure demand from the Criminal Assets Bureau, who are trawling through his banking transactions and ‘company’ accounts.

It is understood they have linked him to major shipments of contraband cigarettes from as far back as 2008 and believe he may have been smuggling for up to ten years.

The Sunday World’s sources say he has held directorships on a number of legitimate companies which he uses as a front for his operation. But he has also hijacked VAT and registration details of perfectly innocent companies and used them to get his contraband through Irish ports.

It is understood that as part of their investigations, the CAB has contacted a number of retail stores around the country who had no idea that their details were being used to clear imported goods from Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Last year, the businessman lost a major consignment when Al Qaeda terrorists fired two rockets at the Asia Cosco cargo ship as it made its way along Egypt’s Suez Canal.

They were hoping to disrupt trade in the area and even released a video of the attack on the mother ship.

But instead, they blew apart ‘The Jackal’s’ lucrative business when investigators discovered the consignment of illicit cigarettes on the damaged ship and fitted it with a tracking device.

The cigarettes were transferred to a smaller vessel in Rotterdam, which docked in Dublin port. The Emergency Response Unit, the Organised Crime Unit, CAB and Customs watched as the container was loaded onto a truck and drove north towards Co Louth followed by a jeep.

The van was stopped at Castlebellingham and four men – three men in the jeep, along with the driver of the van – were arrested.

Although ‘The Jackal’ was not at the scene, a major probe into the consignment linked it back to him and he became a target of CAB.

He has been found to have links with, among others, Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy.

Read the full story here.

Second Support Gaza Protest planned for Dundalk tomorrow

Some of the crowd who gathered at the Market Square in Dundalk for the previous protest

Some of the crowd who gathered at the Market Square in Dundalk for the previous protest

A second Support Gaza Protest will take place at the Market Square in Dundalk tomorrow (Friday) at 1pm.

Around 500 people turned out for a previous protest last week aimed at showing solidarity during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

All are welcome to attend tomorrow’s protest.

New road linking the Ramparts and the Avenue Road opens

Where the new road will merge onto the Avenue Road

Where the new road will merge onto the Avenue Road

The new road linking the Ramparts Road to the Avenue Road opened earlier today.

The road, which travels along the back of the new Tesco superstore at the former Dundalk Shopping Centre site emerges on to the Iron Road. From there, motorists can either turn left in the direction of the Marshes or go straight on, passing the back of Lidl and coming out at The Gym onto the Avenue Road.

A new roundabout is also in place at the rear of the shopping centre, which those travelling from the Marshes Shopping Centre direction of the Ramparts Road will have to use if they wish to travel onto Stapleton Place.

The filling station at the rear of Tesco will open this Monday, followed by the opening of the megastore itself the following week on Monday August 4th.

Big Top Carlingford to host Last of the Summer Wine event this Saturday

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The Big Top Carlingford will be hosting a Last Of The Summer Wine event this Saturday, featuring a stock clearance party and BBQ.

The Beached Whales and The School of Fish will be performing on the night at the Carlingford Marina venue, followed by DJ sets from Barry Hoey and Evil Presidentes.

Complimentary buses will be running to and from the event, collecting at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dundalk at 9pm and returning from the marina at 2.30am.

All stock of beer, cider, wine and spirits have to go on the night with admission €10 on the door.

This will be the last event at the venue this year.

 

Firefighters tackle forest fire overnight

Firefighters from Dundalk and Ardee were called to a forest fire in the north of the county last night.

The incident happened at an area between Jenkinstown Hill and Rockmarshall. The fire service were called to the scene around 8.15pm and spent over three hours battling the blaze before finally bringing it under control.

Louth has one of the highest obesity rates in the country

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Louth has one of the highest obesity rates in the country, according to a report on the nation’s health published in today’s Irish Examiner.

The study found that approximately 16% of the population of the county is classified as obese – making it one of six counties with the highest obesity levels nationwide, a stigma it shares with all of the border counties, as well as Sligo.

The report also found that there were more medical cards in the Wee County than anywhere else, with 50% of the county’s 122,897 people having access to one.

Louth also has one of the highest rates for diabetes, with around 3.03 – 3.2% reporting the problem.

The suicide rate of 12.2 suicides per 100,000 was also above the national rate of 11.5.

The county was in the middle of the road when it came to respiratory illnesses and cancer, although it had the fourth highest mortality rate in the country for Non-Melanoma skin cancer.

You can read the full report here.

Eden to launch new cocktail menu this Saturday

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Eden Disco Bar in Park Street will be launching their new cocktail menu this Saturday night at 8pm.

The new menu is created by Eden’s very own Jim Shevlin and will include three new ice cream cocktails.

You can reserve a booth with table service on the night, with tickets available right now from Ridley’s Bar.

Louth Rose Ciara Soraghan will be one of many attending the launch, which promises to be a fantastic night.

Louth Rose Ciara Soraghan will be in Eden on Saturday for the launch of their new cocktail menu

Louth Rose Ciara Soraghan will be in Eden on Saturday for the launch of their new cocktail menu

Kearney brothers in Dundalk Rugby Club this Friday

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Dundalk Rugby Club will host a fundraising night on Friday called ‘Keepin’ up with the Kearneys’.

On the night Leinster and Irish rugby stars Rob and Dave Kearney – who hail from Willville in Carlingford – will be in attendance for a Q&A session hosted by local solicitor Dermot ‘Doc’ Lavery, who will be assisted by RTÉ pundit Brent Pope.

The pair will question the brothers about their recent success and their journey to international glory.

There will be a disco afterwards in what promises to be an excellent night’s entertainment.

Doors on the night open at 8pm, with tickets priced at €20.

Ticekts are on sale now from Tommy Campbell at Dundalk Rugby Club on 087-6362778, Tony McDonnell’s Menswear, Lily Finnegan’s Pub or from Hallmark in the Marshes Shopping Centre.

Steam Traction Engine Road Run to visit Blackrock tomorrow

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Ireland’s largest Steam Traction Engine Road Run will visit Blackrock tomorrow (Thursday).

The fleet of engines will travel around the bypass in Dundalk and head for the Fairways Hotel, arriving around 3pm.

A number of the engines will then proceed to the promenade, via the Greengates, arriving at 4pm and remaining there until around 7pm.

The run is in aid of TinyLife, Northern Ireland’s premature baby charity.

Dundalk Company Challenge to take place this September

The contenders for the Dundalk Company Challenge 2014

The contenders for the Dundalk Company Challenge 2014

Dundalk Chamber of Commerce are set to hold an entertaining two day event this September to find the town’s ultimate company team.

The Dundalk Company Challenge 2014 will take place on Friday September 12th and Saturday September 13th.

The event will see 20 of the area’s biggest employers go head to head in a range of different events, all of which will take place at Oriel Park and in the Oriel Active centre.

Amongst the events the companies will compete in include a table quiz, indoor football, tug-o-war, relay races, obstacle courses and more.

The companies who will compete include Applegreen, Servisource Recruitment, Pelican Promotions, PayPal, Matthews Coach Hire, Boylesports, Aura Leisure Centre, Irish Life, Louth Trades Network, Louth County Council, Crowne Plaza Hotel, eBay, the Department of Social Protection, Suretank, Prometric, FPM Chartered Accountants, Heinz, Horseware, Hydroscand Ireland and Intact Software.

Further details are available from Dundalk Chamber of Commerce.