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Farming & Fisheries

Hauliers need clarity on live export future, says Collins

May 24th, 2024 11:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Hauliers need clarity on live export future, says Collins Image
Michael Collins: Feared job losses if wording remained.

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HAULIERS are a vital link in Ireland’s live export chain and need clarity on European Commission plans for the sector, a West Cork TD warned.

Independent Ireland leader Deputy Michael Collins addressed the issue during a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee Agriculture, Food and the Marine debate on EU Legislative Proposals on the protection of animals during transport.

The Cork South West TD cited an incident in April during which inspections were conducted by Irish Road Safety Authority staff in Cherbourg, France on nine Irish livestock vehicles as they were preparing to make the journey from Cherbourg to Dublin.

‘What took place on April 17th clearly suggests to me the possibility of something akin to a stealth policy of undermining the economic viability of live exports through the deliberate targeting of Irish hauliers who received on the spot fines between €1,500 up to €12,500,’ said Deputy Collins.

‘To be clear, I have been informed that when the Irish hauliers were within metres of boarding their ship in Cherbourg, they were directed by officials in yellow high visibility jackets, who despite being asked to identify themselves by the hauliers, failed to do so.

‘It is my understanding however that these were three officials were from the Irish Road Safety Authority.

‘As such we now have the insane situation where Irish officials were sent over to France to dictate to Irish drivers on the French side. I want to know on whose clear authority they were sent there. I want to know what the true agenda of this expedition was that resulted in Irish hauliers being penalised.

“I want assurances that there is no informal or stealth policy being pursued to undermine the live export trade and those hauliers who are a vital link in that export chain.’

Deputy Collins said that no animal welfare breaches were identified in this instance, but said that there are ongoing issues around aligning driving regulations with animal welfare regulations. ‘That conflict urgently needs to be resolved because if it is not then the export chain will break down resulting in significant financial hardship to hauliers and farmers alike.’

A senior superintending veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who addressed the Joint Oireachtas committee was unaware of any welfare issues relating to April 17th. ‘What the Deputy may be referring to is road safety driver rules, which would be under different legislation than the agricultural legislation on welfare. I am loath to comment on that. The only comment I will add is that there is an attempt being made in the new draft proposals to align journey times for the animals with driver rest periods and times. That has been recognised in these new draft proposals,’ Lorna Meaney told the Joint Oireachtas committee.

Deputy Collins has called for clarification from the RSA on the matter.

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