Henry Hill is a Conservative and Unionist activist and writer.

Fuel smugglers dump toxic waste into Armagh water supply

The Irish Independent alleges that fuel launderers operating on the Irish border have been dumping one-ton containers of toxic waste product on roadsides in counties Monaghan and Armagh.

Several of these have recently been dumped in such a manner that their contents have leaked into a feeder stream of Lough Ross, which supplies water to 60,000 people in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The paper quotes sources from the Garda, the Irish police, who suggest that almost the entire region’s fuel smuggling trade – worth millions of pounds – is controlled by the IRA. Sinn Fein figures from Gerry Adams down deny that claim.

Local residents reportedly suspected that the IRA had been given some kind of deal by the British and Irish governments to look the other way.

Fuel smuggling was on the agenda of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, comprised of MPs, TDs, peers and senators, who met on Monday and Tuesday of this week and described the scale of fuel smuggling operations as ‘alarming’.

The waste in question is a by-product of the process whereby sulphuric acid and other chemicals are used to “‘wash’ the green or red dye out of agricultural and domestic heating oil”. According to the Irish Independent:

“The toxic waste contains polycyclic aromatic hyrdrocarbons (PAHs), which are particularly harmful to unborn babies as they are unable to process the poisons. Tests have linked the same poisons to foetal abnormalities and under-development in children.

“In adults, the same neurotoxic poisons are linked to cancers and serious cognitive disorders.”

Poll show Scots want another referendum within a decade

A poll for the Daily Record reveals that 59 per cent of Scots want a second vote on their place in the United Kingdom within ten years.

The same poll also shows a continuing majority for remaining inside the UK, albeit slightly reduced from the No campaign’s 55 per cent in September.

Previously politicians on all sides had agreed that such a referendum would be a “once in a generation” event – but leading nationalists such as Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have reneged on that position in the aftermath of their defeat.

Thousands of energised separatists have joined the SNP in the aftermath of the campaign, leaving them with little choice but to keep up the pressure.

Unionists had hoped that September’s result would settle the constitutional question and allow Scotland to address more mundane but important political problems, such as its education system.

Any future vote will still require the UK Government’s authorisation, as the last one did. A nationalist administration in Edinburgh cannot call one unilaterally.

Welsh farmers’ bid to put badger cull back on the agenda

The Welsh head of the National Farmers Union has used its annual conference in Birmingham to call for the UK to adopt Ireland’s “robust” approach to combatting bovine TB, according to Wales Online.

Highlighting culling trials in Somerset and Gloucestershire, which coincided with a decrease in incidences of the disease, Meurig Raymond has urged politicians not to make the subject a ‘party political issue’ in the lead up to the general election.

He criticised Labour’s plan to abandon culling and praised Liz Truss, the Environment Secretary, for her pledge to expand the programme.

However farming is a subject devolved to the Welsh Assembly, and badger culling has reportedly been a source of tension between Cardiff and Welsh farmers since the Welsh executive abandoned plans for a cull in 2012.

Mainland council asked to fly Irish flag to commemorate the Easter Rising

Preston council is considering a request from members of the local Irish community to fly the Irish tricolour to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising next year, the Times reports.

The rising was an act of rebellion at the height of the Great War which left hundreds dead, including many civilians, and set an example of political violence which elements of the Republican tragically took to heart in later decades.

It nonetheless has become a key part of Irish national mythology, with many politicians who abhor political violence making an exception for it.

The council, which previously flew the Palestinian flag from the town hall, has acknowledged the request but denies that there are currently any proposals to act on it.

Scottish Labour go trolling on Twitter

Buzzfeed reports that Blair McDougall, a Scottish Labour campaigner who previously ran the unionist Better Together campaign, has been having some fun with SNP supporters.

In an attempt to publicise Scottish Labour’s “vote nationalist, get Conservative” message, he has been tweeting fairly unobjectionably about how the largest single party in a hung parliament would expect first shot at forming an administration.

The implication is obviously that should the SNP take swathes of seats off Labour north of the border then they’ll just be giving David Cameron his route back into Number 10.

Naturally, indignant nationalists took great exception to any suggestion that voting Nationalist was the wrong thing for Scotland. Buzzfeed provides a small sample in their article.

But once sufficient indignation had piled up McDougall revealed that he was actually quoting Salmond, speaking after the SNP first became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament after the 2007 elections.

He will be hoping that Scots will recall that the SNP did indeed go on to form a minority administration – and laid the groundwork for their 2011 landslide.