Kennedy voices concern at South Armagh fuel smuggling
The Ulster Unionist Assembly member for Newry & Armagh, Danny Kennedy MLA, has voiced his serious concern at the level of illegal fuel smuggling and dumping in his constituency.
Kennedy described the scale of the problem as being “almost epidemic” and he called on both the PSNI and HMRC to make an example of those responsible by court convictions, instead of allowing them to effectively “plea bargain” their way out of justice.
Kennedy raised his concerns with senior PSNI commanders at a meeting last Friday and he intends to seek an early meeting with HMRC officials to further highlight the situation in his constituency.
He said he had recently met with ‘desperately worried’ Protestant families in South Armagh who believe there is a very sinister element to the pattern of illegal dumping of diesel in the area.
Kennedy said the diesel dumping sites were similar to the locations used to dump the bodies of IRA victims during the Troubles, a fact he said was not lost on the local Protestant population.
Speaking to Newry Times, Kennedy said, “Clearly both the PSNI and HMRC both need to do more to restore confidence to the entire law abiding population of South Armagh and especially the Protestant minority who live there.
“Arrests, though welcome, must be followed up with charges and convictions rather than allowing those responsible to negotiate and pay their way out of jail.”
Kennedy said there was an uneasy feeling within the local Protestant community that “political expediency” was preventing the full rigour of justice from being applied, given what Kennedy described as the ‘inevitable links the diesel operators had to Republican paramilitaries’.
He said he wanted to see those responsible made more accountable for their actions, which is causing such distress to his constituents and doing immense damage to the local environment in addition to the cost to the local hard pressed tax and rate payers.
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