Irish truck drivers ‘under threat’ from Calais migrants

Road haulage association calls on Government to take action to protect drivers

Irish truck drivers are under increasing threat from migrants trying to cross the border to the UK through the French port of Calais, according to the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA).

The IRHA has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to liaise with British and French authorities to help minimise the risk to truck drivers while crossing the port.

It follows chaotic scenes in Calais on Tuesday as hundreds of migrants swarmed truck drivers in the hope of crossing to Britain. About 400 local workers blockaded the port as part of a wildcat strike.

Long tailbacks ensued as migrants tried to gain access to the vehicles. Television footage showed migrants entering the back of vehicles. Truck drivers were previously told not to stop within a 60-mile (97km) radius of the port town.


President of the IRHA, Verona Murphy, said urgent action is needed to protect the safety of Irish truck drivers.

“We feel that it will be the death of one of our drivers before action is taken. The level of policing at Calais is appalling and nobody is taking control of the situation,” she said.

“We’re calling on the Government to make robust and urgent representations at European level on this ever concerning issue before a fatality occurs.”

“This is not a new problem. It’s been ongoing for about a year. Migrants have set up camp in Calais, with about 2,000-3,000 living in tents there. They try to board vehicles trying to get to the UK,” she said.


Ms Murphy also said that the amount of Irish truck drivers fined for having been found with migrants on board is “substantial” with some haulage operators collecting fines of up to £30,000 (€42,000).

A haulage operator is fined £2,000 per migrant found on the vehicle, regardless of whether the driver was aware that migrants were on board or not. It is estimated 500-1,000 Irish truck drivers travel through the port daily.

Ms Murphy accused the British and French authorities of not taking responsibility for the crisis and said they are putting the blame on the truck drivers. “They blame and fine our drivers when they have had nothing to do with it.”

“The situation is a threat to the safety of Irish drivers and urgent action is needed as it’s currently a free-for-all out there. It’s costing them their livelihoods.”

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has raised concerns about increasing immigration levels to Ireland from Britain and Northern Ireland.

The issue of migration in Europe is due to be discussed at a summit of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday.