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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Minister says Irish trucking firm registration needs 'tightening up' in light of Essex incident

The vehicle involved is owned by an Irish company, but registered in Bulgaria.

Image: Shutterstock/Mikbiz

THE MINISTER FOR Justice has said the government intends to examine the registration practices of Irish trucking companies with a view to “tightening up the situation”.

Charlie Flanagan today described the deaths of 39 Chinese nationals whose bodies were found yesterday in the trailer of a truck in England as “a deeply horrific event”.

The driver of the truck, 25-year-old Mo Robinson from Armagh was arrested by police in Essex following the discovery. He is continuing to help them with their investigation. 

It later emerged that his vehicle is owned by an Irish company, but registered in Bulgaria.

“My understanding is that it’s quite common for Irish companies to register their trucking companies in other jurisdictions. I believe we need to look at that,” Flanagan told reporters today. He said he had been in touch with Minister for Transport Shane Ross on the issue.

“I believe it’s important that there’s no opportunity for any activity of an acceptable nature regarding the registration of trucks,” he said.

It is quite common to see Irish trucking companies with their fleet having registration plates in Eastern Europe in particular. And I believe there’s something that we need to look at with a view towards tightening up the situation.

“I don’t know the reasons why an Irish trucking company would cite their headquarters in an Eastern European state and I believe those who do that probably need to state the reasons why.”

The lorry’s cab travelled to Holyhead from Dublin Port, but the trailer section,  refrigerated container, was not attached until the vehicle reached the town of Purfleet in Essex.

Police today confirmed the nationality of the 39 deceased migrants. Eight were female, including one young adult woman and 31 were men.

“The lorry has since been removed from the industrial park to allow the next stage of our investigative process to be conducted in peace, and to give the utmost dignity to those within the trailer as we prepare for a coroner’s post-mortem examination,” Essex police said in a statement.

“Each of the 39 people must undergo a full coroner’s process to establish a cause of death, before we move on to attempting to identify each individual within the trailer. This will be a substantial operation and, at this stage, we cannot estimate how long these procedures will take.”

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