Fresh food supply in jeopardy due to ‘regulatory paralysis’ at ports – TD

A TD has warned that the supply of fresh food here is being put in jeopardy due to what she called “regulatory paralysis” at Irish ports.

Wexford TD Verona Murphy said this morning (Thursday, January 7) that she was “astutely concerned” at the length of time it is taking for customs clearance to be granted for goods travelling between the Republic of Ireland and Britain.

According to the independent TD, the problem is being caused by “an understaffed, underprepared and new customs system”.

We are an island nation that needs to export and import goods. The Irish government has known about Brexit for almost five years, yet still has not put a streamlined customs system in place.

Murphy claimed that “there are simply not enough people employed to do the work, while those doing the work don’t appear to have the time or the knowledge base to do it quickly”.

She also claimed that, in Northern Ireland, it is taking six minutes to complete a customs declaration to ship goods to Britain, while it is taking “the equivalent of four hours to complete the same procedure in the Republic of Ireland”.

“Delays in receiving customs clearance causes drivers to reach their maximum driving time and forces them to wait at the port until their break is finished. This has resulted in trucks being stuck in Holyhead and Dublin for three days,” she remarked.

Deputy Murphy went on to say that there were “hundreds of loads sitting in warehouses in Ireland and the UK waiting to be loaded, and food rotting in trailers”, due to the need to fill out customs paperwork and correct any errors.

She noted that one shipping company has cancelled sailings due to a “lack of freight” because transport companies cannot get clearance to ship their goods.

“If this situation continues, we will see supermarket shelves empty rapidly, while the Department of Transport fails to understand the problem,” the TD concluded.