Hauliers stage protest in Foynes over ‘illegal activity’

Eugene Phelan

Reporter:

Eugene Phelan

Foynes: the scene of a blockade by members of the Irish Road Haulage Association on Tuesday night
AFTER the blockade of Foynes Port on Tuesday evening local truck companies are “for the present” happy that the relevant authorities will take action against “illegal haulage activity” in Limerick.

AFTER the blockade of Foynes Port on Tuesday evening local truck companies are “for the present” happy that the relevant authorities will take action against “illegal haulage activity” in Limerick.

“This is not just happening in Foynes, but in Limerick city and all over the country,” said Eoin Gavin, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association.

“It is the same as if a London taxi came into Limerick and stopped at a rank in the city for a fare, what do you think would happen? It is the same with us these people are illegal and coming from Europe and Northern Ireland,” he said.

Around 12 trucks staged a blockade preventing haulage vehicles from entering Foynes on Tuesday night over what they claim is “illegal” activity relating to foreign operators.

“I am aware of a number of local haulage operators in the Limerick area who have been forced to put their drivers on notice as haulage work is being undertaken by out-of-state operators. It begs the question that if the Government of today are not prepared to defend the licensed haulage sector in Ireland, where is the value and benefit in holding a road haulage operator’s licence,” said Mr Gavin

The Haulage Association (IRHA) undertook the protest at Foynes Port at about 8pm because it said the ongoing situation was not being given due attention. However, it called a halt to the blockade at about 9pm after receiving assurances from gardaí that the foreign trucks transporting parts for wind farms would not be able to proceed any further that night.

While not directly involved a spokesman for Foynes Port said that it was in everyones best interests that this matter was resolved at the earliest possible opportunity. It is understood that the Port authorities have consulted with the Department of Transport on the matter

A garda spokesman said: “We won’t be commenting on this particular issue. Any reports of illegal activity received by Gardaí will be fully investigated.”

Some people involved in wind farms questioned whether local haulage firms had trucks big enough to transport the large parts. There are about 100 road haulage businesses operating in the Limerick/Clare area and some of them have trucks of up to 60 fleets.

Eoin Gavin, IRHA president, said the move was necessary because foreign drivers were exceeding the amount of work they were permitted to carry out without actually registering their vehicles in Ireland. He said the activity had been ongoing for a number of weeks. According to association,an EU based driver can only deliver three loads within a foreign country’s borders over the period of a month, but in this case the drivers from England, Scotland, Holland and Northern Ireland had been carrying out more.

“The association has provided intelligence led information to the enforcement agencies to assist their efforts to combat this practice and nothing has been done.”

Mr Gavin called on the relevant enforcement agencies to act and eradicate alleged illegal haulage activity which has been on-going for the last number of weeks around the Foynes area of Limerick. Despite numerous occasions where the association has informed the gardaí and RSA of this alleged illegal activity, nothing has been done to protect the licensed haulage operator in the region, he claimed.

“Irish hauliers feel discriminated against in favour of out-of-state operators,” claimed Mr Gavin. This alleged illegal activity has been on-going for a number of weeks, he said.