Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Drug smugglers avoid check-in & baggage reclaim delays

Today’s Irish Times reports that Weston Airport, owned by Jim Mansfield of Citywest fame, has been facilitating foreign flights illegally. The report states that between 600 and 800 such flights have used the airport over the past three years. There is no permanent Immigration, Police or Customs & Excise presence at the airport.

Mr Mansfield is quoted as saying that, before gardai contacted him, he was unaware that he should not be facilitating some planes and passengers.

Last September, Belgian police seized €6m worth of cocaine and heroin as it was about to be loaded onto Jim Mansfield’s private jet for transportation to Ireland via Weston. Mansfield denied all knowledge of the affair, claiming that he didn’t even know that his plane had
been taken out of the country. You’d have to wonder just how many of those 600-800 flights were involved in drug-smuggling?

A reasonable man on the 46A bus would say that it was Mansfield’s plane, his airport and a huge haul of illegal drugs and could only conclude that Jim Mansfield and his associates should be the subject of a thorough investigation by the Garda Drug Squad.

In addition, the gardai should throw the book at him for multiple and serious breaches of Aviation, Immigration and Customs & Excise regulations. Ignorance of the law is no defence.

In any event, Mr Mansfield has already demonstrated his complete contempt for planning regulations with regard to Citywest, so why would anyone believe that he would adopt a different attitude to irksome Government regulations with regard to the running of his
private airport. A lengthy jail sentence might be the appropriate outcome.

Fianna Fáil will hold their pre-election Ard-Fheis in Citywest Hotel in March 2007, the party's 2006 Ard-Fheis was also held there last November. Jim Mansfield was a guest at Bertie Ahern’s Dublin Central Constituency annual Christmas party, held in the Clontarf Castle on December 2nd last.

But this will not inhibit investigation and prosecution of Mr Mansfield, will it? Am I holding my breath?

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