The Republic's justice minister, Michael McDowell, has said he will "massively accelerate" cooperation across the border in seizing the criminal assets of paramilitaries and organised gangs.
Mr McDowell's comments followed a meeting in Belfast with Secretary of State Paul Murphy yesterday (Monday).
Mr McDowell said they were "going to take on the money laundering, the smuggling, the criminality, the extortion rackets and the protection money from builders".
"All of this has to be taken on comprehensively at a scale which has never been done in the past," he said.
Asked if there was a case for an all-Ireland criminal assets bureau, Mr McDowell said: "Put it this way: you operate in two jurisdictions, so therefore a single agency is not necessary.
"But a very close co-operative relationship between the agencies that do the work on either side of the border is necessary and will be achieved.
"I raised this issue with Secretary of State Paul Murphy and he is very, very clear that is a very strong agenda item on both sides of the border."
The outspoken justice minister said this would involve greater human and financial resources as well as legal back up.
Meanwhile, Mr McDowell addressed an SDLP meeting last night in his role as a Progressive Democrat TD and in support of SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell's Westminster election campaign in south Belfast.
He said it was a great paradox that the work of the SDLP leadership with successive Irish and British governments to advance peace and justice had drawn such a meagre electoral dividend in recent years.
"The strategic withdrawal of the Provisional movement from open warfare has not yet been matched by an unequivocal commitment by them to exclusively peaceful and lawful means of advancing their political objectives," he said.
"Sinn Féin has sought to feast on the fruits of democratic politics while evading the hard choices of complete abandonment of criminality and terror and the power derived by them from such activity.
"While the Provisionals have consolidated their electoral position, the hypocrisy of their position has contributed to the poisoning of community life and politics here.
"A 'race to the bottom' in terms of the quality of political dialogue and representation is neither an inevitable nor a permanent prospect in Northern Ireland."
In a statement, Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey said his party had been the target of a propaganda assault by Michael McDowell and other Irish government ministers over the last five months.
"Mr McDowell's visit to south Belfast confirms our view that electoralism and self-preservation is the dominant focus of the Irish government. His visit is an ill-judged attempt by the SDLP to boost its failing fortunes," he said.
"Of course Michael McDowell is entitled to visit and campaign in these elections. But his presence would have had some credibility had he ever made an appearance to support or defend the nationalist communities of south Belfast when they were suffering injustice and sectarian attacks."
"Why did McDowell not visit during the recent sectarian siege of Short Strand, when Graham's bookmakers' was attacked, when Orange marches were forced through this community and local people subjected to curfew and attack or ethnic minorities persecuted by racist bigots?"
Mr McDowell responded by saying that Sinn Féin was now changing its tune by stating he was entitled to visit and campaign, whereas at the weekend it told him to butt out.
He also claimed Sinn Féin had been toying with the idea of labelling him a racist due to his immigration policies.
"I have not exiled anybody from this island under threat of death. And secondly, when anyone throws around the term racist in Irish politics...I just remind the Provisionals of what happened at Kingsmills when the Catholics and the Protestants on that bus were segregated and the Protestants were machine-gunned," he said.
"Anyone who has anything to do with that organisation has no right to throw that label around in any part of nationalist politics."