Several TDs have backed a call from a west Limerick couple who are seeking a public inquiry into a factory neighbouring their farm.

Pat and Nuala Geoghegan from Askeaton have been highlighting their concerns about health and environmental impacts of the Aughinish Alumina plant for over 25 years.

The couple recently held a protest outside the gates of Leinster House where they were joined by TDs from across the political landscape.

This included People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy and independent Mattie McGrath who also raised the matter in the Dáil with Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Deputy Murphy told the Dáil that the Geoghegans have raised serious questions about a previous investigation into their concerns in the late 1990s.

The Limerick couple has pointed to 18 medical samples taken as part of that inquiry which went missing.

“I have copies of a previously unpublished letter from the IDA and of notes from a previous meeting the agency had with Aughinish over this.

“They clearly show that the IDA, with absolutely no environmental or health expertise, not only took Aughinish’s side but sought to influence the outcome of the health investigation,” Murphy told the Taoiseach in the Dáil.

“They refer to the importance of the jobs involved and restate the IDA had been assured by the company that there was nothing to see there.

“I have a letter showing these notes were circulated to those conducting the investigation into the health problems despite it containing no scientific or health information, clearly an attempt to use economic arguments to influence the health investigation and to bias the whole thing,” the TD added.

Deputies Matt Carthy and Mattie McGrath also called for a fresh investigation into the concerns raised by the Limerick farmers.

“It is clear the public interest has not been served by the investigations into the missing samples, the freedom of information documentation that confirms those samples had been tested, and the question as to who, what, when and why those samples and the subsequent results went missing,” Carthy said.

In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that significant work had been done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in relation to the matter.

“The issue was examined from a health perspective and by the EPA at the time. These are issues that should be examined by independent agencies with expertise and competency in the field.

“That campaign has been going on for a long time and there have been quite a number of reports and reviews,” the Taoiseach said.