France should offer Irish trucks customs pre-clearance to help them beat the huge queues at the British Port of Dover.
Dozens of Irish trucks were caught up in the gridlock at British ports this weekend, with trucks left waiting up to 30 hours to get through.
British officials are blaming France for the delays, while France is blaming Brexit.
This is Brexit pic.twitter.com/ZHZ6299mbQ
— Led By Donkeys (@ByDonkeys) July 24, 2022
The Irish Road Haulage Association President Eugene Drennan told Newstalk the delays cost Irish businesses time, money and reputation.
He said the Minister for Foreign Affairs should work with his French counterpart to agree a border pre-clearance area for Irish freight.
“I actually recently met the French Ambassador and the president of Normandy and I have asked that parts of the port of Normandy would be either virtually or practically dedicated as being Irish,” he said.
“That would give us some leverage in that we would be arriving into what would be deemed as a part of Ireland and then we could go about our work.”
Mr Drennan said the UK landbridge remains the fastest route to France for Irish produce, provided trucks can get through.
He said people don’t understand how long the queues are.
“They are stacking - what they call stacking - which is parking vehicles off the main roads into Dover and on the M20, and they are filtering trucks and cars through then,” he said.
“But the queue is forever building. So, it is now very long, and the trucks are being held anywhere from 12 to 24, to 30 hours.”
He said Irish freight needs to be offered special status when travelling towards continental Europe.
“We haven’t brought home to the main countries of Europe that we are the island, and we need island status,” he said.
“The French should be doing more to see that EU produce - in this case Irish produce - is able to get to the market. That it has an even playing field and can survive in the European market.
“We are very dedicated Europeans. We should have ease of transit and be able to get into France somewhat easier.”
Mr Drennan noted that the biggest issues are for fresh fish and shellfish products – which have a limited shelf-life and have to get to market within a limited time period.
Reporting from Teena Gates.