Legal clampdown on IRA fuel launderers proposed
A CROSS-BORDER clampdown on fuel launderers, involving more police resources and changes to company law, will be proposed today.
Criminals linked to the Provisional IRA are operating lucrative fuel smuggling and laundering operations in the border counties.
Last week, poisonous slurry from fuel laundering facilities was dumped into a stream entering the main drinking water facility for 60,000 people in the border region, including Dundalk in Co Louth.
This morning, the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, made up of politicians from Leinster House and Westminster, will be presented with a report on tackling the issue.
The report will recommend more resources for agencies involved in investigating the criminal activity - the gardaí, the Criminal Assets Bureau, Revenue Commissioners customs officers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
But the committee says resources also have to be directed at the problem by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The committee that compiled the report was chaired by Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan, the Government whip in the Seanad.
The report also recommends changes to company law on both sides of the border to make it difficult for the criminals to run companies which front up the fuel-smuggling operations.
The committee wants legislation to deal with so-called 'Phoenix companies'. A Phoenix company is one that is started up overnight with the same owners as a company that is shut down or goes bankrupt.
"They are dealing with full-time professional criminals and police on both sides have other work to do. There needs to be a response in both jurisdictions. And these criminals need to be prevented from going back into business again," a source said.
Last week, volunteer firemen from Co Monaghan involved in a clean-up of waste dumped in a drain, which flows into the water supply on the Monaghan/Armagh border, had to don bio-hazard suits because of the threat to their health from the sludge.
The waste was the by-product of using sulphuric acid and other unknown chemicals to 'wash' the green or red dye out of agricultural and domestic heating oil.
Four 1,000-litre cubes of deadly poison were dumped overnight last Tuesday into a drain that feeds directly into Lough Ross, which supplies all the drinking water to Dundalk in Co Louth.
The launderers showed their complete contempt for human life by leaving the lids off two of the upturned containers, allowing the toxic sludge to flow into the drain at a point about just 100 metres from the shores of the local reservoir.
The toxic waste contains polycyclic aromatic hyrdrocarbons (PAHs), which are particularly harmful to unborn babies as they are unable to process the poisons. Tests have linked the same poisons to foetal abnormalities and under-development in children.
In adults, the same neurotoxic poisons are linked to cancers and serious cognitive disorders.
Last month, the 'Sunday Independent' revealed how the deadly waste was already being pumped directly from one of the Provos' 'washing' plants into the same water supply.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has denied the south Armagh IRA has any involvement in the activity. But at a meeting of Louth County Council, the IRA was accused of using poison "to murder people in Louth and south Armagh," during a debate on the alleged pollution of the public water supply.
Pointing the finger at the IRA, Fine Gael councillor Richie Culhane, a retired garda, said the "same people who murdered Paul Quinn are the same individuals pumping toxins poisoning people".