Louth Fianna Fáil TD Seamus Kirk is calling for the establishment of a cross-border, multi-agency taskforce to crack down on fuel smuggling.
The proposal is part of a new Fianna Fáil Bill to tackle illicit fuel smuggling, which costs the exchequer at least €260m every year.
Deputy Kirk explained, “We have seen an increase in fuel smuggling and fuel laundering in Co Louth in recent years. Not only does it have a huge impact on our local economy and the environment, this criminal activity poses an ongoing threat to our communities.
“Fuel smuggling is severely hampering small traders in Co Louth 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 Co Louth 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.
“Fianna Fáil has published a Bill that would establish of a cross-border multi-agency taskforce, building 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 in Co Louth and right across the border. This legislation puts forward a concrete framework to effectively tackle this unlawful trade and punishes those involved in it,” said Deputy Kirk.