Some may detect a whiff of Compton Mackenzie's Whisky Galore about the suggestion that fuel smugglers have helped to drive three of the world's biggest oil companies out of Northern Ireland. Esso, BP and Shell have all passed their filling stations in the province to franchisees.
One reason for this, according to Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association, is that cheap fuel is being smuggled over the border from the Irish Republic, where it costs up to 24p per litre less than in the north.
This would be funny and charming, like Whisky Galore, if it were just a traditional story of free-spirited Britons trying to cheat the hated excise-man. In fact the perpetrator of this organised crime is the IRA, which has now added fuel-smuggling to its portfolio of intimidation, drug-dealing and bank robbery.
The scandal is that the authorities are so anxious for the fraudulent “peace process” to continue that they turn a blind eye to the fuel tankers crossing the border. They seem to have given up enforcing the law.
Daily Telegraph: Emerald oil