The report also said Irish criminal gangs were bypassing international drug traffickers in Europe and arranging deals in “source” countries. 

“The UK and Ireland are highly attractive destinations for illegal immigrants and organised crime (OC) groups who facilitate illegal immigration,” said the EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2008, conducted by Europol. 

“Both countries are favourite destinations because of a flourishing economy and consequent demand for workers, particularly in low-skilled sectors, and the image of easy access to health, welfare and education systems.” 

The report by the EU police co-ordination agency said “significant numbers of people” were attempting to enter Ireland. 

“Nigerian OC groups for generations present in, amongst others, the UK and the Netherlands, and responsible for various forms of fraud, are now also discovered in Ireland,” said the report. 

The assessment said educational establishments had gained importance in facilitating illegal immigration in Ireland and Britain.

“This allows the use of genuine documents instead of falsified documents to apply for access to a school. Recently, also, bogus schools, established by the OC group themselves, help in obtaining the visa applications by providing the necessary documents.” 

The report said Irish criminals based in drug-trafficking hubs in north-western Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Belgium, acted as “facilitators for drug deliveries” to their home country. 

The report said some Irish gangs were directly organising shipments from production countries. 

“Established Irish OC groups are starting to bypass the criminal hubs and becoming active in the source countries,” said the report.

Ireland has two Garda liaison officers in Europol, based in the Hague, and a Customs liaison officer is pending.