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Hauliers cause traffic disruption in Dublin as part of protest against rising fuel costs

The protest is spread across several locations in the city centre and traffic continues to be disrupted.

Trucks behind a road closed sign on Merrion Street South in Dublin today.
Trucks behind a road closed sign on Merrion Street South in Dublin today.
Image: Sam Boal

Updated Nov 24th 2021, 1:10 PM

A CONVOY OF hauliers caused major traffic disruption around Dublin today as part of a protest to demand that the government lowers the cost of fuel.

A new group under the name Irish Truckers and Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices mobilised commercial vehicles to travel to Kildare Street in the city centre early this morning.

At the protest – which is spread across several locations in the city centre – demonstrators indicated that slow-moving protests would continue to take place on major roads around Dublin throughout much of the day.

The group, organising on a social media page set up in October, asked commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, tractors and vans to drive to Dublin to call for lower fuel prices.

The convoys met at various locations off the M1, M2, M3, M4, M7 and M11, and there was significant delays on routes around the capital as the demonstration slowly travelled along the main arteries into the city.

Several streets in Dublin city centre have been completely blocked off by Gardaí, including Kildare Street, Merrion Street upper and Merrion Square West.

The M50 was busier than usual late into the morning today due to the knock-on effects of the protest. Users reported crawling traffic across most of the busy ring-road and near-gridlock traffic approaching many of the junctions, heading in both directions.

Trucker protest 011 A convoy of trucks on Merrion Square in Dublin Source: Sam Boal

In the city centre, the protesters parked trucks on several streets close to Leinster House and Government Buildings.

Pat Russell, a haulier based in Clondalkin, Dublin, was among the gathering on Dawson Street. Russell said the fuel cost increases are driving smaller hauliers out of the business.

“With the bigger haulier, all that’s gonna happen is; the ordinary people, the ordinary working people that’s doing their shopping and everything else, their shopping is going to increase. Double.

The hauliers have to charge extra because of the prices they’re putting on the diesel. So, something has to be done about the diesel.

Another one of the protesters, Paddy Martin from Carrickmacross in Monaghan, said the cost of diesel for two days’ work has gone from €700 to €940.

“That’s for two days. Over a month, what’s that? You’re talking thousands. So, the profit’s gone. Any bit of profit they had at the end of the year is gone now,” Martin said.

Independent TD Richard – who yesterday drove a truck to Leinster House “in protest over the government’s failure to act on the fuel crisis” – addressed one section of the demonstration on Stephen’s Green and called on the Government to subsidise the trucking industry.

“Every person that came here today, men and women that came and drove their trucks here, today are doing this to lower inflation.

“Because [if] the cost of running these trucks goes up. The cost of getting your food to your shops goes up. That’s why they need to be protected,” O’Donoghue said.

The Limerick TD accused the Government of having “no concept” of what it takes to be self-employed and run a business.

He added that it also fails to understand issues that affect people living in rural areas.

“Is there one person on the Cabinet running this country, are they self-employed? They’re not. They’re being led by civil servants. It’s time independent people, people that are self-employed, need to be represented on Cabinet,” he said.

O’Donoghue said that further protests will take place in the future if the Government doesn’t take steps to support the trucking industry.

Gardaí said they will keep the public up-to-date with ongoing traffic situations via their social media profiles.

The group of hauliers previously said it wants to see lower fuel costs and lower taxes, in response to an increase in prices last month.

In a post on social media, the association told drivers joining the protest: “All roads lead to Kildare Street or as far as we can get. When we stop don’t move!”

“Please be as safe as possible and have some consideration for emergency vehicles,” it said.

It asked drivers to “remember this is a peaceful protest, we don’t want any trouble or vigilante groups to act up” and to “stay at home if that’s your plan please”.

Budget 2022

Under Budget 2022, the cost of petrol and diesel rose alongside a planned increase in the rate of the carbon tax.

The carbon tax increased another €7.50 to €41 per tonne and is due to continue to rise each year until it reaches €100 per tonne.

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Petrol and diesel costs came into effect in October after the Budget announcement, with the price of a litre of each rising by 2.5c and 2.1c respectively.

Trucker protest 008 A convoy of trucks on Dawson Street today. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

That equates to around €1.28 extra for a 60-litre tank of petrol or a €1.48 jump for diesel.

The issue of rising fuel costs was raised with the Taoiseach in the Dáil today, with Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald stating that the carbon tax needs to be scrapped. 

“It is the wrong move at the wrong time,” she said. She called on the Taoiseach to engage with the EU Commission so as to get a waiver on VAT on energy bills for three months. 

Micheál Martin said the fuel cost crisis is being driven by global energy prices right now, stating that the issue is not unique to Ireland.

The Taoiseach said the diesel rebate scheme already offers partial relief to hauliers.

He defended the carbon tax, stating that it is a “very small cost” in the overall scheme of things, adding that bringing it in was “not the popular thing to do” but the right thing to do. 

Martin said as regards the VAT reduction, such a move would not be possible as Ireland is already under a special derogation which sets VAT at 13.5% – a 0% rate is not possible, he said. 

It cannot be lowered below 12%, he said, and then it would revert back to 23% as Ireland would have opted out of the special derogation plan, he explained. 

McDonald said she is well aware that the price of energy is a global phenomena, but said it is the government’s job to respond to the crisis and find solutions.  

With reporting by Lauren Boland, Garreth MacNamee, Stephen McDermott and Christina Finn.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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