Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Monday, 15 February 2021

Seanad Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union

Impact of Brexit on Trade Connectivity and Trade Flows: Discussion

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank Mr. Nolan and Senator Garvey. The committee will have a conversation on that. Part of our work is to give a platform to sectors that are impacted by Brexit, and obviously the road haulage sector is one of those most impacted. When we make our final report we also want to be able to put into the report some key recommendations to send to the relevant Minister and up the line to Government. All of the committee members have contributed at this point. I have a question from Senator Black that I have been asked to put to Mr. McArdle and Mr. Nolan as the Senator was unable to attend the meeting today. She says that while there is a simplified transit procedure in place that will limit the checks needed if exporting through the land bridge to the UK and the EU, we heard last week that adjusting to the regime has deterred people from using it. Although transit time has not increased there is still a lower volume of trade done through the land bridge. The Senator would like to know why that is She points out that the land bridge still remains a strategically important route for agrifood, seafood and other sectors trading in time-sensitive produce.

I also have a couple of questions on the land bridge as we come to the conclusion of our session. We are aware that there are certain products with a short shelf life and the time of transit is very important. How has fresh produce in particular been impacted by the new regime under which hauliers now have to operate? Have the import and export times increased dramatically? Is this having an impact on the shelf life of goods coming into Ireland?

In the next session the committee will engage with Rosslare Europort and the Dublin Port Company. We have listened carefully to the issues raised by Mr. McArdle and Mr. Nolan, especially around the space at Dublin Port and the fact that the agencies are spread across a number of different buildings. What are the hauliers' specific asks of the two port companies with regard to making life a little bit easier? We are all conscious that we are only seven weeks into this entirely new trading environment and that there was always going to be a bedding-in period or some teething problems. Are there things that the haulage sector can see now that need to be addressed and which are not simply just teething problems?

Are there specific requests that Mr. Nolan and Mr. McArdle want the committee to include in its report, which we will send up to Government, on what we need to do to assist the sector in coping with these changes? Senator Garvey, for example, has made a recommendation that we hear from Revenue, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the HSE on how they might streamline their process. I am hearing loud and clear the issues raised by Mr. McArdle and Mr. Nolan on the level of paperwork required. It seems absolutely ridiculous that a haulier would have to break the seal on his or her truck to get paperwork from it. It seems that this type of system is not really fit for purpose. What are the witnesses' specific requests to Government, which the committee will put into its report, to help make things a bit easier for the sector?


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