Charlie McConalogue TD says a new Bill calling for the establishment of a cross-border, multi-agency taskforce has the potential to seriously curtail fuel smuggling north and south of the border.
The criminal activity results in losses of around €260m every year to the Irish exchequer, as well as impacting on the environment, and strengthening dissident gangs.
Deputy McConalogue says Fuel smuggling, and the criminal elements which are run alongside it is not only costing taxpayers in Donegal, it is severely hampering small traders in border areas, who are seeing their businesses eroded through this illegal activity.
“Many of these small businesses were already struggling to remain viable in the face of rising rents, insurance and bank charges, and the surge in fuel laundering, and cut price petrol and diesel, is forcing many of them to consider shutting up shop.
“Motorists across the county are also affected, when contaminated fuel wreaks havoc on their car engines costing thousands of euros in repair costs. Insurance companies are refusing to pay out in cases where contaminated fuel has been detected, leaving car owners out of pocket and facing substantial mechanic bills.
“The environmental consequences of fuel laundering cannot be underestimated. The toxic waste produced as a result of the process is regularly dumped in fields and wastelands, often near rivers and lakes, contaminating water supplies and posing a threat not only to public health, but also to our wildlife, agriculture and food chain.”
He added that Fianna Fai’s Bill, which proposes the establishment of a cross-border, multi-agency taskforce, will build on the work carried out by the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, to make it more difficult for these gangs to continue to operate their illegal ventures.
“We want to see stricter penalties, including longer prison sentences for those found guilty of these illicit activities.
“Illegal fuel smuggling is a scourge that is impacting on communities all along the border, and further afield. This legislation puts forward a concrete framework to effectively tackle this unlawful trade and punishes those involved in it”.