Hauliers hopeful on Brexit: ‘A no-deal would be crazy for everybody involved’

Freight firms told Brexit will lead to surge in customs documents from 1.7m to 20m a year

Jon Goodaker does not believe it is actually possible to have a no-deal Brexit. It would just lead to too many delays, too much chaos.

"There are too many variables," said the logistics manager for construction materials company, Saint Gobain, which is based near the Border in Kingscourt, Co Cavan.

The man responsible for transporting products to and from the UK and Europe was one of 145 people at the Freight Transport Association Ireland's conference in Enfield, Co Meath. The mood about Brexit was downbeat.

“Honestly, I don’t think they can do a no-deal Brexit,” he said, pointing to the complications flowing from the UK’s departure from the EU and blockages on a vital transit route for Irish companies to mainland Europe.


Right now, transporting goods across invisible EU-UK borders is so straightforward that Goodaker’s company can order a product from Europe on day one and have it delivered to Cavan and onto a customer on day three.

“With delays from Brexit, that could spread out to day four or day five,” he said.

Bumpy road

The hauliers heard speeches from Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee, a Revenue customs officials and others about the bumpy political and logistical road ahead with just 24 days to Brexit and still no deal.

Aidan Flynn, manager of Freight Transport Association Ireland, told his members that Revenue expects to carry out physical checks on just 22 trucks passing through Dublin Port a day but that is based on 100 per cent compliance on documents.

Brexit will lead to a surge in customs documents from 1.7 million a year to 20 million, he said, and while Revenue will be working 24-7 to cope, there are not enough customs agents to respond to the errors they spot.

“If Revenue enforce the law on day one after a no-deal, business and trade will come to a standstill. The ports will become clogged because industry will not be prepared,” he said. “In many respects, it is unfair to expect industry to be ready given the tight margins that companies particularly those in the haulage sector operate in.”


Mr Flynn has called on the Government to provide more details of contingency plans for “welfare facilities” and parking for lorry drivers caught up in Brexit-caused tailbacks into Dublin Port. He wants a delay to the intensive “third country” health checks that will have to be carried out on animal-based food products after Brexit.

"The UK is effectively a distribution centre for food and retail in Ireland. If Revenue, the Department of Agriculture and the Garda are to enforce the regulatory checks as they are, we are going to have seriously difficulties and congestion. There is no quick fix," he said.

Ray Cole, a co-owner of lorry company Virginia International Logistics, has been in the business long enough to remain long delays on either side of the Border, in Newry and Dundalk. He fears for a return to those days for his 120-truck fleet. Mistakes in customs paperwork after Brexit would be "a disaster," he says.

“I think there will be a deal of some sort. A no-deal would be crazy for everybody involved, the UK, Ireland and Europe,” he said. “I think it will be kicked down the road a bit, some way or another.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times