Taoiseach said Ireland would not see the same problems with the UK’s truck driver shortage.
Michel Martin said the government’s pre-Brexit preparations had worked and the UK had failed to make similar plans.
Amid warnings from carriers that Ireland faces a shortage of 3,000 to 4,000 truck drivers, Taoiseach insisted: “We are consistent as it is.”
Speaking from Europort in Rosslare, Co Wexford, Martin said:
“Suffice to say from my briefings at the port and here that the preparations made by Ireland before Brexit have worked.
“And this was done on a fairly tight schedule.
“Now there are broader issues, more than just Brexit in full swing, within the UK.
I’m not sure the same preparations have taken place in the UK.
“I think the issue of immigration within the UK, the decision, for example, to create obstacles and barriers for people coming from Europe to work in the UK is an overarching factor. We don’t have that here.”
Martin said Ireland was “not going to take anything for granted” and highlighted the need for more training and programs for heavy truck drivers and the transportation industry.
“We need to be flexible with regard to people coming to Ireland to work in this sector,” he said.
Asked if Ireland could have avoided the situation in the UK, where a driver shortage has dried up petrol pumps and left supermarket shelves empty, Mr Martin replied: “Yes, that’s our ambition, that’s our determination. Yes we can.”
He said: “We are consistent as it is and, as far as we are concerned, we are not getting the same effects that are currently happening in the UK.”
Martin said the UK’s problems are due to more than just Brexit, but its exit from the EU has made the situation worse.
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“There is no doubt that the recovery of the European economy and the global economy in terms of the Covid-19 virus has caused a lot of disruption in supply chains,” he said.
“So to be fair to everyone, there is a broader issue than just Brexit.
But I think the Brexit situation has exacerbated the situation in the UK, in terms of employees for heavy truck drivers and so forth, and indeed other sectors of the UK economy.
“We don’t have that kind of problem here. We are part of the European single market, free movement of people and so on.
“This is an aid to us with regard to any shortages that arise in certain sectors.”
“Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante.”