Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland is seeking clarification as to whether or not the Army will be called in to deliver fuel supplies in the event of a yes vote for strike action by fuel tanker drivers.
The East Belfast MLA said:
“I recently questioned the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment regarding the potential for a fuel shortage and what plans her department had if such a shortage were to occur.
The Minister replied that she had “no concerns with respect to the current stocks of fuel held by the four Northern Ireland based terminals, which are more than adequate to meet expected demand.”
I was more heartened by her assurance that the Department has “well developed plans to deal with any severe disruption to fuel” and that “these are regularly exercised and tested with key stakeholders at both a UK and local level.”
I fear that these plans may be put to the test sooner rather than later if the Unite Union goes ahead with a proposed strike by fuel tanker drivers. There is speculation that a strike will take place next month involving 2,000 drivers who account for 90% of those supplying petrol to UK forecourts.
I noted that the Army have been in training to assist in the event of such a strike, and am keen to establish whether or not there are any plans for the Army to deliver fuel supplies in Northern Ireland should the need arise.”