The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has today, 21st of April, called for urgent intervention by Government to prevent Irish haulage operators going out of business due to the tsunami of fines being levied on Irish operators by UK Border Force when transiting the Channel Crossing of Calais to Dover.
The migration crisis via the Calais – Dover ferry crossing continues unabated with operating conditions continuously deteriorating. The IRHA contends that the UK Border Force enforcement approach is deeply flawed and the IRHA says that its members have had enough of saddling all of the enforcement and subsequent financial burden.
The IRHA met with UK Border Force officials only last week in Kildare Street, in conjunction with the Department of Transport, to outline the deep flaws associated with the civil penalty regime that the UK government is utilising to seek to tackle clandestine entrants on HGV’s. Despite the UK Border Force officials acknowledging that their ‘Code of Practise’ has not been updated in twelve years, fines continue to be levied on Irish haulage operators.
Speaking about the current situation, Eoin Gavin, a past President of the IRHA who was present at the UK Border Force meeting in Dublin last week stated that the engagement with such officials is proving fruitless. Mr Gavin said “As of this morning I was informed that one of my vehicles has been impounded and will not be released until a fine of £5,840 is met. This fine is being levied due to clandestine entrants previously detected on-board my vehicle, despite being cleared for progress through the Port of Calais by French enforcement officials within their ‘secure area’”.
Mr Gavin continued “My vehicle moved a further one hundred yards up to the UK Border Force officials based in the Port of Calais and clandestine entrants were found on the vehicle. The current enforcement approach is a farce and my company cannot afford to meet a £5840 fine for something we had no hand, act or part in – it’s immoral and unjust”.
President of the IRHA Verona Murphy stated “We have done everything we can as an industry to offset the threat posed by clandestine entrants, particularly when utilising the Channel Crossing of Calais to Dover but it’s still not enough. We are expected to act as border agents due to the completely ineffective ground level enforcement at present. The industry has no objection to every single truck and trailer being x-rayed by the relevant authorities but they will not do that.”
Ms Murphy continued “I have spoken with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Charlie Flanagan TD to impress the urgency of this currently unworkable situation. The Irish government needs to do more to support the sector. Why should haulage operators pay such exorbitant fines when the vehicle has been passed by the French authorities and given the all clear within a ‘secure area’ that is clearly not secure; this cannot continue.”
The IRHA has said that it will continue its representation at all available levels but unless decisive and swift action is taken by the Irish government to support the haulage sector to a much greater extent, all options remain on the table.
For further comment, please contact:
IRHA President Verona Murphy on 087 253 2720