The Stormont water minister has firmly dismissed Gerry Adams’ assurances that republicans have not polluted Co Louth water supplies with fuel laundering waste.
UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, who represents the Newry and Armagh constituency bordering Co Louth, was speaking after a motion was passed earlier this month in Louth County Council, claiming that IRA fuel smugglers were dumping toxins into waterways supplying public water there.
A majority of Louth councillors supported the Fine Gael motion condemning “the IRA and all fuel smugglers operating along the border”; a Sinn Fein amendment to remove “the IRA” from blame failed to gather support.
The council debate was prompted by reports from the Sunday Independent newspaper claiming Louth drinking water had been compromised with IRA fuel laundering waste.
On Sunday, the paper reported that tests it commissioned found the water “extremely toxic”.
Sinn Fein reiterated Mr Adams’ comments that the claims were irresponsible “especially given the assurances by the director of services in Louth County Council that the drinking water is safe”.
However, Regional Development Minister Mr Kennedy dismissed Mr Adams’ credibility.
“Risks can’t be taken with public health so I certainly wouldn’t be relying on Gerry Adams word for it that water supplies are safe,” he said.
“I warned months ago that republican criminals are now dumping the toxic sludge from fuel laundering in exactly the same locations where they used to dump bodies along the border, yet this is allowed to continue.
“It highlights once again the pitiful sentences that are handed out to those found responsible.”
Earlier this month Louth council said water tests in 2014 found “no issue” and that Dundalk water supply is “safe”; it has dealt with 9,000 litres of fuel waste this month.
Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said that it seemed to have “slipped” Danny Kennedy’s mind that he is Minister for Regional Development and has responsibility for the provision of safe drinking water.
“If the minister therefore has any information that criminals are dumping toxic sludge in the water supply then he has a duty and a responsibility to bring that information to the attention of the PSNI and to his own department and the public health authorities,” he said. Like Gerry Adams last week, Mr Brady issued an unequivocal condemnation of those involved in dumping fuel laundering waste.
Sinn Fein reiterated Mr Adams’ challenge to the Sunday Independent to confirm who tested the water sample which the paper claimed found Dundalk water to be “extremely toxic”.