O’Neill welcomes new initiative

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has hailed a new joint British-Irish initiative to tackle fuel laundering as a step forward in the fight against rural crime.

Speaking ahead of the introduction next week across Ireland of a new product which will make rebated fuel much harder for fraudsters to launder, Minister O’Neill said: “Fuel launderers create serious damage to both our economy and our environment. The impact of this crime is felt right across our community but especially in rural areas.

“I raised this and other rural crime issues with my counterpart Minister Simon Coveney recently and we agreed to jointly explore further measures to tackle these crimes in the time ahead.

“I believe it is significant that both jurisdictions have collaborated to introduce a single marker at the same time which will undoubtedly bolster the fight against a crime that is a scourge across the island.”

On 1 April the British and Irish governments will implement a new product to mark rebated fuels, including off-road diesel commonly known as ‘red diesel’ in a move designed to boost the fight against illegal fuel laundering across the island.

The new marker, which is highly resistant to known current laundering techniques, will make rebated fuel much harder for fraudsters to remove dye from and sell on at a profit.

Launderers filter the fuel through chemicals to remove the government marker. The chemicals and acids remain in the fuel and damage fuel pumps in diesel cars.

Minister O’Neill said: “This initiative is also very positive news for our farming community as it helps protect the legitimate use of rebated fuel by our agricultural industry.”