Export trade could collapse amid government testing failure – Murphy

An independent TD has described the government’s approach to dealing with testing at ports as “chaotic”.

Deputy Verona Murphy had called on the government to introduce antigen testing at Irish ports in December 2020.

Last week the French government ruled that all Irish truck drivers needed to present a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival in France. This requirement begins at 11:00pm tonight.

Speaking from Leinster House today (Wednesday, January 27), the deputy said: “From tomorrow, every truck driver leaving Ireland to arrive in France must have evidence of a negative Covid-19 test.

Deputy Verona Murphy

“[However] the testing system hasn’t even been set up yet, and will result in chaos at the ports,” she added.

Antigen testing

“In December, I called for an antigen testing system to be put in place to keep the supply chain operating smoothly. I received a reply from the Taoiseach saying that they wouldn’t be doing the testing,” deputy Murphy added.

In typical fashion, the government did nothing until a crisis developed. I have made numerous attempts today to contact Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan and his department, but I have yet to receive any response.

The independent TD and former Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) president concluded: “This latest episode is typical of this government’s approach; reactive rather than proactive.

“A rapid testing system must be in place by tomorrow to ensure that our exports can reach their destination and to ensure that we have no disruption to ferry schedules. I have offered my assistance with the establishment of these testing sites as [has] the IRHA.”

Meanwhile, Brexit has seen the number of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) staff posted at Irish ports and airports to deal with customs checks more than triple over the course of the last year.

It has been confirmed that as of January 19, 2021, there were 250 resources in place and available to undertake Department of Agriculture inspections at various locations.