Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Legitimate Oil Pressure Group


  1. LOPG represents the whole Oil Industry and is supported by all the main business institutions.

  2. LOPG's sole objective is the stopping of illegal fuel transactions (smuggling and "washing").

  3. The trade will only stop with either:

    (a)  much closer duties between UK and RoI; or

    (b)  concerted effort by the co-ordinated forces of Customs and Excise, Inland Revenue and RUC.

  4. The NI oil industry is reeling from the effects of smuggling. At best, investment is being curtailed and at worst many job losses and bankruptcies.

  5. Of equal importance, we are silently condoning the flow of £150 million to paramilitary organisations and creating millionaire mobsters.

  6. The prevalence of the problem is undermining the fabric of the law-abiding population.

  7. We present a number of questions for Government:

    (a)  Do they acknowledge the problem and its size?

    (b)  Is the political will there to tackle it?

    (c)  Does tackling the issues give rise to accusations of "harassment" in border areas?

    (d)  Is Government perhaps content with NI oil supplies coming via RoI?


    (a)  Tax harmonisation—there is a case for NI being treated differently but this opens local political criticism—but commercially might well be the right answer.

    (b)  Co-ordinated Action. Too often results are not forthcoming due to the difficulty of individual Government Departments and Agencies acting in a truly co-ordinated manner to achieve a common goal. There must be a Task Force with executive powers to co-ordinate action.

  9. The Select Committee should be in no doubt that this is a most serious issue. The Belfast Harbour privatisation might be budgeted to raise £100 million to use on road improvements. Collecting oil revenues could raise £100 million per annum in the present circumstances.

12 January 1999

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