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Volume of trucks arriving in Ireland is 50% lower than expected due to Covid restrictions and Brexit

“I wouldn’t say it’s a delay – I would say this is very much the new norm,” Tom Talbot of Revenue said.

Supermarkets could see empty shelves in coming weeks, according to the Irish Freight Transport Association.
Supermarkets could see empty shelves in coming weeks, according to the Irish Freight Transport Association.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

THE VOLUME OF trucks arriving in Ireland is around 50% lower than in previous years, State officials have said, which is partly due to post-Brexit checks creating an obstacle for deliveries from Great Britain.

This 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.

An increase in trading is expected over the coming weeks, officials said.

At a briefing at Dublin Port today, head of Customs Operations at Dublin Port Tom Talbot said that the volumes of trucks delivering goods into Ireland was much lower this year than in the same time period in previous years.

The first freight deliveries being transported into Ireland was mostly perishable goods, media at the briefing were told, and that more goods with a longer shelf life are expected in the coming weeks. 

Eddie Burke from the Department of Transport said that the cause of non-Covid delays was a “lack of preparedness, particularly in the UK; in some cases extreme pressure on customs agencies; and the difficulty in some cases in adapting to a new system of customs arrangements”.

Disruption to the food supply chain hasn’t happened partly because of stockpiling done by supermarkets ahead of time, and supplies are still coming into the country.

Talbot said that 80% of trucks have been ‘green routed’ through the Dublin Port in the past few days.

Customs declarations need to be made ahead of time, while a health cert needs to be presented for all agri-food goods. Talbot said that if a truck is orange or green routed, then customs, the HSE, or Department of Agriculture will need to approve the consignment. 

“If documents are not there, the reality is there will be delayed for both truck drivers and goods.”

As an example, Talbot said that of 26 trucks held in Terminal 11 this morning, and no driver was there for longer than five hours. He said that there have been cases of drivers being delayed for 24 hours, but this has only happened in one, two or three cases.

In response to reports from hauliers of serious disruption and delays, Talbot said they are “not delays per se”.

“A lot of this is going to be business as usual: that we’re required to do physical checks and required to do document checks. So that, I wouldn’t say, is a delay – that I would say is very much the new norm as part of EU business – but our job is to minimise that.”

“Some do leave the Ports [without going through the required checks], it’s not done deliberately, people are learning.”

Hazel Sheridan from the Department of Agriculture said that the volume of calls coming through with questions about the new post-Brexit system have been “quite low”, and encouraged businesses and hauliers to get in touch with their questions.

There have been cases of drivers leaving the Port when checks were required, but these were described as not deliberate. Sheridan said that those incidents were “innocent mistakes more than anything else”.

“The UK left the European Union on 31, so there is no scope for pausing [new checks required],” Talbot said.

Last week, Revenue announced that they would temporarily ease a safety and security requirement (an ENS number, which is needed before boarding a ferry), and businesses will be given a generated one to help continue the movement of goods.

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But this is accompanied by the expectation that help will be sought by businesses who have not yet requested one.

Talbot said that they were “absolutely not” at the limit of their flexibility and though they had no plans for easing further checks and requirements, they understand the difficulties faced by hauliers and businesses: “We have legal requirements like everyone else, but we understand that this is new for everybody.”

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