It has emerged that the Revenue Commissioners took just 24 samples from fuel tankers across the entire country for the whole of 2014.
The level of testing equates to less than one sample taken per county for the entire year, even in 2014 as a growing number of motorists in Mayo found their cars grinding to a halt at the height of the petrol stretching crisis.
Ballina based Dáil deputy, Michelle Mulherin (FG ), said the figures she has obtained from Revenue, via a parliamentary question, show a marked decline in Revenue samples taken from fuel tankers since 2011, despite the fact that Revenue is investigating 44 cases of alleged petrol stretching in Mayo alone with many more complaints also being investigated across the wider border, midlands, west region.
“It clearly shows there is no right monitoring of fuel going on and the people who are paying the price are those who have had the engines of their vehicles damaged and are considerably out of pocket,” said Deputy Mulherin.
“In light of this, I believe that the Minister should look again to see how victims could be compensated through even a scheme limited in operation.
“What is the problem with Revenue Commissioners and why are they not taking more samples and carrying out random checks on tankers? This would allow contaminated fuel to be intercepted before it goes into the fuel supply chain.”
In 2011, Revenue took 92 samples from fuel tankers. That figure reduced to 76 in 2012, 61 in 2013 and dropped dramatically to just 24 in 2014 - the year of the petrol stretching crisis.
In 2015, nine samples have been taken to date.
Responding to Deputy Mulherin’s parliamentary question on the matter, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he is advised by the Revenue Commissioners that combatting fuel fraud is a priority for them.
“Their comprehensive strategy for tackling this form of criminality encompasses the carrying out of checks and controls at all stages of the fuel supply chain.
“This involves, among other things, the checking and inspection of bulk fuel transportation vehicles, including, from time to time, the taking of fuel samples from such vehicles,” outlined the Minister.
However, the figures show the number of samples taken from fuel tankers has declined considerably in the last four years, said Deputy Mulherin.
Deputy Mulherin wants to see a mobile laboratory set-up and dispatched to filling stations to test the quality of fuel at the time of delivery.
“This would serve to detect and deter the contamination of fuel and also, in the case of contaminated petrol being identified, there wouldn’t be a time lag of a few weeks waiting for results to come back from the State Laboratory.
“I believe it would be a far more practical use of Revenue’s time and resources and the Revenue would not then be spending many months trying to find evidence of contaminated fuel that they will never find.