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Incomplete haulier paperwork still causing headaches and delays at Irish ports, Cabinet told

The State is to fund antigen tests for truck drivers travelling to France.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

ONLY TWO THIRDS of goods from the UK have all paper work completed before arriving at Irish ports, the Cabinet was told today.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told his ministerial colleagues that trade volumes from the UK to Irish ports have increased this week, but it remains well below the level at this point last year.

The volume of trucks arriving in Ireland is around 50% lower than in previous years, State officials said on Monday, which is partly due to post-Brexit checks creating an obstacle for deliveries from Great Britain.

Officials said it is also partly due to Covid-19 travel disruption: not as many ferries are operating, and shops are closed in Ireland during Level 5 restrictions, and require less goods.

Cabinet was told today that some stock is not leaving the warehouses due to the paperwork not being up to scratch with what is required post-Brexit, with Coveney stating that documentation not being in order is an ongoing issue.

The government is urging all businesses and traders to engage with the authorities about the new rules.

Cabinet was also told that a number of shipments trying to leave Dover Port have been refused due to the freight not having the right papers.

While ministers were updated on the document headaches, Cabinet was also informed that truck drivers travelling to France will soon have to get a negative Covid-19 antigen test result before travelling with their stock. 

The antigen test, which detects viral protein fragments in a nasal swab, are thought to be less effective than the more common PCR test, but they have a quick turnaround.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan brought a plan to government today that will see hauliers given antigen tests due to new French rules which requires drivers to have one before arriving in the country.

Previously, haulier drivers were exempted from needing a test under EU travel rules.

It is estimated the antigen tests for truck drivers, which the State will pay for, is likely to cost between €2 million and €5 million over a 12-week period.

Government has agreed to fund the tests, with a private operator due to carry them out. Truck drivers travelling back from France to Ireland will not need an antigen test as of yet.

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The test sites for truck drivers travelling to France will be identified at Irish ports.

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