Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Timmy Dooley has said there is a clear case for the Minister for Transport to immediately intervene and act to ease pressure on hauliers in light of the migrant crisis in Calais.
Deputy Dooley said he was “personally shocked by the scale of the humanitarian crisis during a visit to the port today and said much more needs to be done by French authorities and the European Union as a whole to address the migration crisis in Europe.”
Deputy Dooley commented: “The scale of the crisis I witnessed today is quite stark to see first-hand. There is a genuine humanitarian emergency that must be tackled. Lives are being put at risk every day as migrants try to get through Calais and sleep out at the massive port camp.
“The crisis is also having an economic impact on Irish hauliers and there are measures the Irish government can take to ease the pressure on them.
“I am urging Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe to immediately take steps for bi-lateral talks with the British government about the criminalisation of Irish hauliers who unintentionally transport migrants into the UK. The Minister also needs to act on Article 14 of EU Regulation 561 which governs the tachograph rules; this is the internal system recording hauliers’ driving time. The Minister needs to ensure hauliers are given derogation from the regulation until such time as the crisis can be brought under control. As a result of the migrant crisis drivers are required to stay at the wheel for longer and breaching the regulations currently in place.
“There are two aspects to the migrant crisis that I heard first-hand experience of today. There is criminal element where gangs are actively working to smuggle people into the UK on trucks in Calais and this is not acceptable. However many Irish hauliers are suffering because they have unintentionally transported migrants from Calais. This exposes both the driver and the haulage firm to £2,000 in fines each per migrant. Irish drivers and their companies simply cannot sustain that financial hit on an ongoing basis. I believe the Government should be negotiating an arrangement for Irish drivers with the British government and that this is an area much more progress can be made on.
“Simultaneously, it is very obvious that not enough is being done on this migration crisis facing Europe. This issue needs a lot more prominence at EU level and I would support the Irish government in using whatever influence it has in trying to bring proper attention to the discussion.”