Special status for North needed to avoid red tape cargo headache

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Donegal businesses transporting goods through Derry, to destinations in the south and other parts of the European Union will face another unplanned for red tape nightmare after Brexit.

Firms on both sides of the practically invisible border have been worrying about the potential impact of fresh import and export tariffs ever since the Brexit vote last year.

But Fianna Fáil, TD, Stephen Donnelly, has now raised the spectre of ‘transit international routier’ cards, which, he says, will be newly-required by Donegal hauliers (EU) crossing via Derry (non-EU) and back into Monaghan (EU) on dispatches.

Before the creation of the Single Market in 1993 truckers needed a TIR ‘carnet’, an international customs and temporary export-import document in order to clear customs in third countries they weren’t delivering to. Mr. Donnelly has warned that after Brexit Donegal firms will find themselves having to obtain and present TIRs every time they cross the Northern border.

The recent Fianna Fáil convert said: “There are options available which would remove the impact of trade barriers on interlinked supply chains.

“To take one very small example, the need to obtain a transit international routier or TIR card every time a Donegal business exports through Derry would be an absurd imposition which could be avoided with a special status arrangement.

“These things can happen, however, only if someone first asks for them but it has been established that London is not seeking any special deal for Northern Ireland or part thereof. The common travel area and barrier-free borders are essential but they cannot be the limit of what we are pushing for. The uniform message from Brussels is that Ireland needs to be more assertive in proposing solutions, rather than simply pointing to problems. In this context, we must state forcefully to London that it is taking Northern Ireland down a destructive path.”

Mr. Donnelly also suggested the much-vaunted electronic border is illusory.

“Concerns in respect of Northern Ireland will not be addressed by some technological solution which speeds up traffic at the Border. The reality of a customs border and the absence of guarantees provided by the Single Market will be still harsh no matter how seamless new regulations may prove to be. It remains the case that a form of special status for Northern Ireland and the counties with the deepest interconnection with Northern Ireland is the only way to mitigate the worst impact of Brexit.”