Kennedy suspects republican paramilitaries of fuel laundering involvement

February 4, 2013

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy has claimed a “lurking suspicion” exists regarding the involvement of republican paramilitaries and dissidents in fuel laundering and fuel smuggling activities in the area.

Speaking following last week’s discovery of a major diesel laundering plant near Jonesborough, the Newry and Armagh MLA said,

“As an elected representative for Newry & Armagh, I am extremely concerned at the extent of fuel laundering in the south Armagh area.

“This is a long-standing issue and there is a lurking suspicion that republican paramilitaries both mainstream and dissident are involved.”

According to Mr Kennedy, many unionists in the area have suspected for some time that a political “blind eye” is being turned to the problem, especially in light of recent reports revealing that no-one has been jailed for fuel laundering or smuggling in the last decade, despite numerous investigations and illegal plant discoveries.

“This is a very serious matter involving huge sums of money and great environmental damage.  It must be addressed head on.  Illegal operations should be closed down and those responsible should be made amenable to the courts. Punishment must be commensurate, and it is quite clear that the fines currently imposed are not enough of a deterrent.

“The problem of fuel smuggling and fuel laundering highlights the importance of the National Crime Agency – which has been described as a British version of the FBI – being permitted to operate in Northern Ireland with exactly the same powers as it will have in the rest of the United Kingdom. It is for Sinn Fein and the SDLP to explain just why they believe organised crime in Northern Ireland should be subject to less scrutiny than in Great Britain.”