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Customs checks at ports ‘will have massive consequences for road haulage’

The Oireachtas Transport Committee heard that even if a post-Brexit trade deal is reached by the deadline, the new arrangements will create hold-ups.

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Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association(Oireachtas TV/PA)

Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association(Oireachtas TV/PA)

Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association(Oireachtas TV/PA)

New customs checks and import controls at Irish ports will have huge implications and massive knock-on consequences for the road haulage industry, a committee has been warned.

Members of the road haulage industry laid bare the level of disruption that will hit the country’s ports post-Brexit.

The Oireachtas Transport Committee was told that even if a post-Brexit trade deal is reached by the deadline, the new arrangements will create hold-ups at ports and airports.

Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said these disruptions and obstructions will have “catastrophic consequences” for hauliers.

Around a million freight journeys are made across the Irish Sea every year.

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Traffic using the Port Tunnel in Dublin on the M1 motorway which connects the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Traffic using the Port Tunnel in Dublin on the M1 motorway which connects the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

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Traffic using the Port Tunnel in Dublin on the M1 motorway which connects the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

More than 150,000 cross the land bridge between the Republic of Ireland and Europe via the UK.

Freight companies use Irish ports like Dublin or Rosslare and Holyhead or Liverpool in the UK.

Mr Drennan warned that inspections by the Revenue, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the HSE and An Garda Siochana will lead to long tailbacks.

“Even without the new checks and controls our ports are heavily congested at certain peak times,” he added.

“God only knows what the level of disruption will be once the new checks and controls take effect from 1 January 2021.

“For our members, these new checks and controls will have huge implications and massive knock-on consequences.

“It is vital that there is a single entity that takes responsibility for the free movement of traffic at our ports so that this does not fall between the cracks.”

He said there are currently six separate entities dealing with the movement of traffic into and around Dublin Port, including Dublin Port Company, Dublin City Council, the National Roads Authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, An Garda Siochana and the Department of Transport.

He has called for staggered ferry arrivals to ease the pressure throughout the day.

The purpose of Brexit is for the UK to take control of their own destiny, but a by-product of that process is they will also assume a level of control over our supply chainKieran O’Callaghan, Cargo Logistics

Kieran O’Callaghan, chief executive of Cargo Logistics, said: “(A) key risk relates to the sphere of influence the UK will maintain over our supply chain post-Brexit, due to our over-reliance on the UK land bridge.

“The purpose of Brexit is for the UK to take control of their own destiny, but a by-product of that process is they will also assume a level of control over our supply chain.”

Christophe Mathieu, chief executive of Brittany Ferries, said there has been a surge in demand for the company’s services.

Brittany Ferries has been crossing the Irish Sea once a week since 1978.

That will rise to five journeys a week in the coming weeks and months in response to Brexit.

Mr Mathieu said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen a surge in demand in the services and we have gone from an average of 35 units per departure to well over 60.

“In 2021 we will deploy another ship between Cork and Roscoff that will also provide some freight capacity.

“Brittany Ferries has gone from a historical one-crossing-a-week passenger service to, in 2021, five departures but with much more freight capacity and this can provide up to the equivalent up to 30,000 freight movements out of Ireland directly to France or Spain.”

Mr Drennan said the road haulage industry’s biggest concern is “scoring own goals” because of the arrangements put in place to cope with the backlog by the Government.

He added: “Everything is going to cost a lot more and if we score our own goals it will cost a lot more.

“We need have to have stockpiles because if we miss the ferry after being held up in the logjam getting into the port, it will cause delays to the market.

“It then cuts in to the time of the driver and anybody outside the immediacy of Dublin won’t get delivery until the following day.

“To the people at home and the woman trying to bake the loaf of bread will be a waiting a day for the flour and likewise in east Clare and around the Shannon area, there is a lot of engineering works and a lot of steel comes through England.”

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