With social distancing measures still a constant for the foreseeable future, hundreds of South Tyrone illegal diesel merchants have signed a letter urging Stormont to apply the national furlough conditions to their line of business until things settle.
The current lockdown directive has witnessed a marked decrease in vehicle traffic in the county, with many households simply walking to the shop or off licence to get essential provisions. The illegal diesel business is reckoned to be on its knees with many car owners still using the fuel they bought at the start of March.
Davy Quinn (55) from Coalisland was adamant that they will not become the forgotten business of this pandemic:
“Let’s be honest here. 75% of the money spent on shops in Coalisland, Brackaville and even Clonoe has the smell of diesel off it. Sometimes you come out of a shop in the town after buying corned beef and stuff and your hands smell like a lawnmower after getting the change. We exist! It’s time we got our 80% furloughing. In my case that would be roughly £3m.”
South Armagh businessmen have joined their South Tyrone and South Derry counterparts in arranging a protest online about their plight on Zoom, with their cameras turned off though.