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‘Chaos’ at ports after no-deal Brexit

Wednesday, 02 October 2019 | 16:00

Ireland is facing into “extreme chaos” this month as Rosslare Europort will not be fully Brexit-ready until January 2021 at the earliest, it can be revealed.

Meanwhile, the UK’s latest proposal to replace the backstop is to set up a string of customs posts on either side of the border.

Concerns have been expressed about how prepared the country is for Brexit as temporary facilities will be relied upon at Rosslare for at least 14 months after Britain is expected to leave the EU at the end of the month.

It has been confirmed by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe that the Office of Public Works (OPW), which is responsible for the delivery of the necessary infrastructure to handle a no-deal scenario, is preparing temporary facilities in Rosslare Harbour.

“These will include public office facilities, basic driver comfort facilities and exam areas for SPS and Customs controls,” said Mr Donohoe. “OPW are working to provide permanent facilities that will be in place by January 1, 2021.”

The concerns about Rosslare follow on from similar concerns expressed about Dublin Port in recent weeks

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has come in for stinging criticism over the failure to have our ports ready in time for Brexit, despite his insistence that the country will be prepared, even if the UK crashes out at the end of this month.

“I have raised this with the Tánaiste,” said Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers. “Ireland was not ready in March, we are not ready now, there will be spaces on the shelves within days.

“If there is no deal, there will be chaos. Hauliers, particularly smaller ones, are not ready as they do not have the funds to prepare in advance, so they are waiting to see what happens.

“We have been asking questions for months and it is clear we will not be ready in time.”

Further details about Rosslare Europort show that the Revenue has appointed 30 additional staff to the port.

“These additional staff brought the total Revenue staff in Rosslare Europort to approximately 50,” said Mr Donohoe.

In April, Revenue undertook direct engagement with truck drivers at both Dublin Port and Rosslare. Customs officers provided advice to drivers waiting to embark ferries and on board a number of sailings. Information leaflets, providing key customs advice for truck drivers were distributed in an effort to ensure that drivers understand and are aware of the impact Brexit will have on journeys.

The State has paid €1.6m for a 16-acre site about 2km near Rosslare Port, where State inspectors will carry out checks on UK imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The purchase price, paid by the OPW, was revealed in a record released by the State agency under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last month, it emerged that a major traffic plan was under development to prevent Brexit-related traffic congestion at Dublin Port spilling out into the city, the port tunnel, and the motorway network

Meanwhile, the UK plan for customs posts, which has been put forward to the EU in the British government’s so-called ‘non-papers’, would set up customs clearance sites between five and 10 miles from the border on both sides.

The Government has continuously stressed that there can be no return to a hard border or customs checks, so the suggestions are likely to be strongly dismissed. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Coveney have repeatedly stated that the backstop and withdrawal agreement is the only workable solution that has been found so far.

It is understood that the Government have not seen any of the latest informal proposals, as talks are solely between the UK and EU negotiating teams.

Under the plans, goods being transported across the border would move from a clearance post on the Northern side to a similar site on this side of the border.

RTÉ reported that goods would be monitored in real time using GPS via mobile phone data, or tracking devices on trucks or vans.

British prime minister Boris Johnson has already suggested that technology and trusted trader schemes could be used as an alternative to the backstop. However, these suggestions have not been accepted as credible alternatives by the EU.
Source: Irish Examiner Ltd

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