‘Fuel fraud criminals should be put in fear of the criminal justice system’ – Kennedy
The Ulster Unionist Party’s Newry & Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy has called for criminals to be put in fear of the criminal justice system.
Speaking in the Assembly during a debate on a Sinn Fein motion regarding fuel duty, Kennedy said, “I have raised the issue of fuel fraud and the illegal dumping of fuel waste on a number of occasions both in the Stormont Chamber and in the context of the North South Ministerial Council.
“Given my interest in highlighting these issues it is with regret I can only say that this motion is a disappointment which, either by accident or design, fails to grasp the issue.
“It fails to grasp the issue in that people who launder illegal fuel and dump the residue in my constituency –on the land of my constituents –are not seeking to achieve an “agreed duty” – they are seeking to evade duty.
“It isn’t about whether there are one or two tax regimes, they simply don’t want to pay any tax whatsoever. They are tax reformers of some sort in that they are tax evaders but they are criminals.
“They are motivated by greed and they have no respect for the environment they damage, the peoples’ lives they affect or the homes and land their actions impact on.
“Their actions deprive the Treasury and ultimately Northern Ireland of important revenue that could be used on our schools, on our health service, on job creation, on infrastructure and so forth.
The UUP MLA continued, “In short their actions impact negatively on the lives of all people in Northern Ireland by engaging in this fraud they aren’t stealing from some abstract being –they are stealing from all us the taxpayers and the beneficiaries of taxation spending.
“Let me be very clear on what solution I propose and what I want to see. I want to see the criminals involved in this sinister and destructive behaviour locked up behind bars. I want to see their assets seized and their liberty taken from them. I want the criminals to be in fear.
“This motion wouldn’t have the criminals in fear. At best it would have them punching numbers into their calculators to re-assess what profits they could make. I want the criminal justice system to be the deterrent it should be. Strong evidence gathering, determined investigations and aggressive prosecutions.
“If Sinn Fein is serious about tackling this issue they would get behind Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise in investigating these crimes. And if Sinn Fein is serious about tackling this issue they would get behind the National Crime Agency. But they won’t and what conclusions should we draw from that?
“Well many people do and will continue to believe they aren’t serious about tackling fuel crime in any way whatsoever. The challenge for Sinn Fein is to dispel those beliefs but this motion falls so far short of that, that it doesn’t even get close.
Kennedy added, “The lives of my constituents aren’t going to be improved by this motion or its out workings.
“Their lives will only improve when people stop dumping sludge on the roads near their homes and on their land. And if it takes a prison cell to stop criminals dumping sludge and stealing from the taxpayer so be it. But let’s get on with it.”
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