Independent TD for Wexford, Verona Murphy, has called for swift action from the government after traffic between the UK and France using the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel was closed yesterday evening (December 20), leaving hundreds of Irish freight drivers stranded on the European continent.
The deputy told AgriLand that £1 million of agri-food exports from three factories in her area were awaiting export and the short shelf life mean that farmers would be the ones to lose out on factory prices if it was unable to be exported.
Deputy Murphy said the suspension of freight between the UK and France “makes no sense and has caused absolute pandemonium” for truck drivers.
Truck drivers could be facing the prospect of sitting in their cabs or on a pier for Christmas if this is not resolved quickly.
“It causes havoc for us particularly as we are an island off an island. The government are in default here on taking an IMDO [Irish Maritime Development Office] report that was completely and utterly a farce in saying that we had capacity.
“You can see today that we don’t have capacity. We have eight loads of beef and lamb to leave the country tonight at a million pounds worth of produce, which can’t go anywhere because they can’t get bookings.”
Deputy Murphy said that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, “has no idea” about the available ferry capacity and stated that up to 400 trucks were currently stranded around the continent while the minister has estimated that between 200-250 trucks had been affected.
The deputy said that the current ferry capacity available to get trucks home for Christmas stood at just 90.
I have received non-stop contact from truck drivers who are refusing to go out due to the uncertainty.
“These truck drivers want to be able to get home for Christmas,” the deputy concluded.