Volkswagen cars in Ireland could be fitted with emissions testing 'cheat' software
Thousands of Volkswagen-made cars throughout the island of Ireland could be fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.
The German automotive giant has admitted 11million cars worldwide have been fitted with sophisticated software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they are undergoing official emissions testing.
This is a type of software known as a "defeat device". Once on the road, the cars produced nitrogen oxide pollutants at up to 40 times the legal standard.
The software was fitted to certain diesel cars and uncovered by US authorities who are recalling 500,000 vehicles.
Volkswagen said it was "working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures" with German and other authorities.
Chief executive Dr Martin Winterkorn admitted the company had "screwed up" and it has set aside billions for potential fines and possible recalls and to "win back the trust" of customers.
The cars involved are Jetta, Beetle, Audi, A3 and Golf models dating between 2009-2015 and Passat models dating 2014-2015.
Volkswagen won’t sell any more 2015 models or produce any more 2016 models until they have fixed the system.
The Brussels-based campaign group Transport and Environment claimed the technology used in VW's cars was also used by other manufacturers meaning millions of vehicles in the UK might have to be recalled.
But the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) insisted there was no evidence that manufacturers in the UK attempt to mislead emission testers.
Last year, Volkwsagen sold some 1,700 Golfs in Northern Ireland, although it is not known how many were diesel, or had the EA 189 engine concerned fitted.
The company added: "Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever.
"It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers. The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently."
Authorities across the world have launched further probes and UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin called on the European authorities to investigate the matter immediately.
Mr Loughlin said: "We are closely monitoring the situation and have been pushing for action at a European level for more accurate tests that reflect driving on the road.
"It's vital that the public has confidence in vehicle emissions tests and I am calling for the European Commission to investigate this issue as a matter of urgency."
German chancellor Angela Merkel demanded "full transparency" from the company, adding that she hopes " the facts will be put on the table as quickly as possible".
Share in Volkswagen have plummeted since the scandal broke and other manufacturers - which have not been involved - have also suffered no the stock markets.
Volkswagen could be faced with a recall on the scale which affected Toyota.
Between 2009 and 2011, the Japanese company, once the biggest in the world, recalled nine million cars after some of its vehicles experienced unintended acceleration.