Minister offers little hope of compensation for victims of ‘Petrol-Stretching’ – Calleary

Fuel_NewsMayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has expressed his disappointment at the replies received to Parliamentary Questions placed by him in the Dáil last week in relation to the ‘Petrol-Stretching’ controversy that has affected many Mayo-based motorists in recent months.

Deputy Calleary said, “I gave a commitment at a public meeting in Swinford last week that I would raise the matter with the relevant Department and I did so in the Dáil last week when I placed three questions to the Minister for Finance.

“I asked the Minister if his attention has been drawn to the practice of petrol stretching; if his attention has been further drawn to the pressure being placed on Gardaí to resolve a series of issues resulting from this practice; if his attention has also been drawn to the financial hardship being placed on motorists who through no fault of their own have lost considerable money as a result of this practice.

“I also asked the Minister if he will instruct management at the Gardaí to allocate extra resources to affected areas as a matter of urgency; if he will instruct management at the Customs and at Revenue to treat this issue as a matter of urgency and if he will ask the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland to investigate the matter and ascertain if they may have a role in compensating affected motorists.

“While the Minister acknowledges the existence of the practice and outlines Customs and Revenue efforts to combat the practice, he has failed to answer the questions properly, in particular the question relating to compensation for affected motorists,” explained Deputy Calleary.

“He has informed me that he is advised by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for tackling fuel fraud, that they are very aware of the risks posed to the Exchequer and to consumers by all forms of fuel fraud and of the emergence of petrol-stretching.

“He indicated that Revenue are investigating the recent reports concerning petrol stretching and have been in contact with the motor trade in this regard. Samples have been taken from a number of filling stations that it has claimed may have been the source of adulterated fuel. These enquiries will seek to establish if there is evidence that kerosene has been added to the petrol being sold by the retailers in question and whether there is evidence to support a prosecution.

“The Minister has confirmed that he will carefully consider any new proposals by Revenue to ensure that the licensing system is robust and acts to protect consumers, the legitimate trade and Exchequer receipts.

“However in relation to compensation for affected motorists, the Minister has simply said that those affected should contact the point of purchase and seek redress through them.  If they remain unsatisfied they may have recourse to civil remedies and as such could seek legal advice.

“I am not satisfied with this and cannot understand why the Minister cannot insist that the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland investigate the matter and ascertain if they may have a role in compensating affected motorists or failing that set-up a redress system similar to the Pyrite Compensation Scheme that was opened last year for those affected by Pyrite in Dublin and Meath,” said Deputy Calleary.