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Trucking mayhem Minister describes scenes of trucks backed up for miles because of Brexit as “just the tip of the iceberg”


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Lorries queue for The Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Lorries queue for The Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Lorries queue for The Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, has described the scenes of trucks backed up for miles at channel ports because of Brexit as “just the tip of the iceberg”.

As last ditch talks continue in Brussels this morning on a Brexit deal, the minister said the inconvenience for lorry drivers who were caught up in miles-long tailbacks would eventually translate into deeper repercussions for economies on both sides of the Irish Sea if no deal was struck.

“For the truck drivers, they will have to build toilets on the sides of roads, and there will be huge delays in delivering products but then people will start losing jobs and that's really the problem,” he said this morning.

“I mean the British sheep industry would be decimated for example in a tariff situation. I'm absolutely certain that Boris Johnson is hearing all of this and is deeply concerned. I have to say I think we're quite up front and open on this side of the Irish Sea about the dangers of going into tariffs.”

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Many are being held up in the dark at the approach to channel ports. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Many are being held up in the dark at the approach to channel ports. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Many are being held up in the dark at the approach to channel ports. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Over the weekend Irish truckers caught up in massive tailbacks on the continent caused by Brexit stockpiling told how they had been targeted by desperate migrants trying to get into the UK.

With trucks stuck in 17km queues and delays of up to five hours reported in Calais one well-known Irish haulier told how his truck drivers have become vulnerable to bands of migrants trying to get onboard while roaming bands of thieves attempt to steal from the vehicles.

"The situation has deteriorated in recent weeks and in particular over the last few days," Kevin Connolly, of KCT Logistics Ltd, said.

"They are now stuck in hours-long tailbacks which makes them more vulnerable to migrants trying to gain access to the vehicle as they are held up.

"In two separate incidents last week crowbars were used by people trying to get into the backs of the trucks. While the trucks are fitted with sensors that detect if someone is trying to gain access the drivers feel unsafe and some have even said they do not want to make the run again."

Meanwhile, Michel Barnier, the European Union's Brexit negotiator, told journalists that they were going to give “every chance to this agreement ... which is still possible”.

"A good, balanced agreement - that means two conditions which aren't met yet,” he said.

“Free and fair competition... and an agreement which guarantees reciprocal access to markets and waters. And it's on these points that we haven't found the right balance with the British. So we keep working."

Mr Barnier will brief member states and the European Parliament this morning following the decision yesterday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to keep the talks alive.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland is preparing for a no-deal scenario but that this is not something he wants.

“I do not understate the difficulties and the challenges that face both sets of negotiators, but in my view where there's a will, there's a way. I think it's very important that they do everything they possibly can to get a deal over the line.”

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