DUP MEP Diane Dodds has hit out at nationalist parties blocking the National Crime Agency (NCA) from operating in Northern Ireland.
On Thursday, the PSNI told the Stormont Justice Committee that there are 145 crime gangs operating in Northern Ireland and over 1,000 people “involved in crime as a day job”.
She added: “This week three fuel laundering plants were disrupted by officers from HMRC.
“These plants were capable of producing 26 million gallons of illegal fuel per year, robbing the public purse of £18m.
“This was a good news story in the fight against organised crime, except that officers will probably be back in a few months doing exactly the same thing in exactly the same locality because the masterminds are not behind bars. This is the latest in a series of raids to result in laundering being disrupted and goods seized but doesn’t result in the gang leaders being prosecuted.”
HMRC has questions to answer regarding their approach, she said. However, we must be mindful that HMRC is disadvantaged “because certain parties refuse to allow the NCA full operational status” here.
“The internet is littered with photographs of outraged SDLP and Sinn Fein representatives beside toxic sludge, left behind by laundering gangs. Indeed, SF and SDLP politicians welcome initiatives to tackle fuel laundering, but with one significant exception – the National Crime Agency.”
Sinn Fein and the SDLP have expressed concern about the transparency and accountability of the NCA operating in Northern Ireland.