Dáil Éireann - Volume 315 - 26 June, 1979

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Petrol Station Notices.

20. Dr. Byrne asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he is aware that a large number of petrol stations are now displaying notices restricting the sale of petrol to the following categories “Customers only”, “Card holders only”, “Accounts only” and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. O'Malley: I am aware that certain petrol stations have displayed such notices but I am confident that the improved supply situation and the response by a large proportion of the motoring public to the campaign to reduce demand will render any restrictions of this kind superfluous.

Mr. Keating: If this type of restriction is in order and legal, is there any regulation or statute which would ensure that people have a supply of petrol? If every garage did this overnight, the possibility is that certain people would not get supplies. Is there any illegality or irregularity about that type of restriction which could be imposed overnight?

Mr. O'Malley: I am not aware that the practice is illegal. I believe it is now a declining practice.

Mr. Keating: That is fair enough.

Mr. O'Malley: Obviously one would not wish to see it repeated everywhere. That would not be practical because about 60 per cent of petrol sales are likely to be to casual customers at any given station. As a result, most of them would probably go out of business if they sought to confine their sales to people who had accounts with them only.

Mr. Keating: It is quite legal?

[894] Mr. O'Malley: It is not illegal. I do not want to give the impression that I would encourage it in any way.

Mr. Kavanagh: Can a garage which obviously has petrol supplies refuse any customer who looks for petrol providing he falls within the regulations laid down?

Mr. O'Malley: If the filling station in question had adequate supplies and refused to supply and the potential customer is in a position to show that, he should complain to my Department about it and the matter will be taken up with the filling station.

Mr. Keating: That contradicts what the Minister told me a moment ago.

Mr. O'Keeffe: What about petroleum licences?

Mr. O'Malley: To the best of my knowledge petroleum licences are given out by the local authorities except in some rural areas where they have to get some kind of certificate from the district justice.

Mr. O'Keeffe: The District Court.

Mr. O'Malley: I have never heard of a case where there was an objection.

Mr. O'Keeffe: I have often moved them.

Mr. O'Malley: So have I and happily I never had them opposed. There probably must be some means whereby an objection can be made. I should imagine that if there is, it is more likely to relate to safety than to these other practices. I would have to look up the Act. I could not say off-hand. The main reason for the licensing of petrol stations is to ensure that they maintain safety standards, that the tanks are buried at particular depths in the ground and that they are covered by a particular layer of concrete and things of that kind.