The trucker and haulier protest at Dublin Port, which started on Monday afternoon, has now been cleared, according to Dublin Port Company.
All roads affected by the protest were reopened on Monday evening, and vehicles were moving but the traffic was still heavy.
There were serious delays on Dublin roads all day after a trucker and haulier group staged the protest against the rising cost of fuel.
Members of the Irish Truckers and Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices gathered close to Dublin Port to protest, and the south bore of the Dublin Port Tunnel was closed on Monday afternoon as a result.
This caused traffic delays as far back as before the M1/M50 roundabout, according to gardaí.
Protesters blocked the road to the port and said that they would only allow emergency vehicles through. This meant that all freight and passenger vehicles going to Dublin Port were stopped.
Protesters also allowed lorries to only leave Dublin Port on a staggered basis, and there was a large build-up of traffic from the ferry terminals as a result.
There were also serious delays on Alfie Byrne Road, Annesley Bridge and East Wall Road due to the protest, but these delays have since eased. Gardaí were controlling traffic at the East Wall bend.
There were also delays on the Malahide Road inbound.
This is the Irish Truckers and Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices’s second protest. Last month, their first demonstration brought traffic in Dublin city centre and on the M50 to a standstill.
Protesting hauliers are looking for a 16 cent reduction in the price of a litre of diesel.
This morning, a stand-off took place between truckers blocking the road to the Dublin Port Tunnel and another lorry driver who was trying to get through.
At 10.45am, an Eddie Stobart lorry was prevented from reaching the port. The driver was informed a protest was happening and he would not be allowed access.
He parked his vehicle on the side of the road and a number of trucks were backed up behind his lorry. Gardaí attended the scene.
There were approximately 20 trucks parked up on and blocking one lane of the road to Dublin Port amid the protest. Organisers said they were expecting 100 trucks in total to join the protest, but many were held up by gardaí in other parts of the city.
Protesting hauliers claim they will not be able to break even unless their demands are met.
One protester, who declined to give his name, said they had brought in microwaves and fridges and were prepared to stay.
“We are not leaving here. We are stocked up. We are going to stop and block everyone except emergency vessels. Tough s**t if you want to get to the port. You’ve had plenty of warning,” he said.
He added that haulier protesters in Ireland are peaceful and in France they are burning vehicles that try to break blockades.
John Meere from Tipperary said that “fuel prices are really coming up at the moment and the rates are not coming up to meet it”.
He said: “We are finding it very hard at the moment. At the moment we are only cutting even. If we have a breakdown, that’s our margin gone.”
Barry Cuddy said his fuel bill costs him an extra €5,000 a month on top of the cost of living. “The hauliers are getting kicked every which way they go. The Green Party wants this and wants that. They are asleep on the job. They have no idea what it takes to run them yokes [trucks].”
Andrew Cast, who drove from Kinsale, Co Cork, for the protest, said the treatment of hauliers is “scandalous”.
“If it makes a difference it makes a difference. If it doesn’t, we’ll have to come back again,” he said.
However, Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) president Eugene Drennan told The Irish Times that while he “fully understands the frustrations” of the protesters, they “didn’t cause any grief today for anyone other than hauliers themselves by blocking the port”.
“Most hauliers wouldn’t want to do this to the Irish people before Christmas. It’s a special time of year and many people are looking for the goods they blocked today,” he said.
The protests today and last month were a “whipped-up frenzy from WhatsApp” that would “not get any delivery” on the issues hauliers were facing, he said.
The IRHA was instead engaging in negotiations with the Department of Transport, which began last Friday and were attended by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State at the department Hildegarde Naughton.
Hauliers needed to be able to pass some of the cost in question on to the customers, Mr Drennan said, adding that he had raised that with the Ministers.
On Monday, TD and former IRHA president Verona Murphy said: “I understand the reasons [for the protest] but don’t believe businesses and people should be disrupted to this extent at this time.”
The protest had an impact on Dublin traffic on Monday morning. There were delays reported inbound at Heuston Station to the North Quays. There was also heavy congestion on the M50 northbound between J5 (Finglas) and J3 (M1).
Farmers, taxi drivers, people from rural Ireland and bus operators were also urged to join the demonstration.
Meeting points in Cork, Galway, Westmeath, Wicklow, Meath and Kildare were posted on the protest group’s Facebook page. Convoys met at these locations and then made their way to Dublin.
The group, which has mainly organised through social media, said the protest would last for at least 24 hours.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (Isme) has called on the truckers not to block access to PCR testing centres, vaccination centres or hospitals.
It has also called on the truckers to elect a spokesperson to speak on the truckers’ behalf. “People are inherently and rightly suspicious of those who hide behind anonymous social media,” Isme said.
“Appreciate the fact you live in a republic where you enjoy the right of free assembly and protest under the Constitution. Don’t abuse that privilege.”
Streets around Leinster House were sealed off on Sunday night, with Kildare Street, Molesworth Street and Merrion Street due to be a controlled environment for the day on Monday. Convoys of trucks were also being watched on the network of CCTV cameras on the State’s roads and from a Garda helicopter.
Sources had said the public should benefit from having more advanced warning of this protest than last month’s, but that significant congestion and slow-moving traffic appeared inevitable.
Garda planning for the event has been undermined by the fact the force had been given no insight into the protesters’ specific plans. The group has not put forward a spokesperson or leader, which gardaí believe is a tactic to frustrate in the event of any legal issues arising.
Separately, the Individual Farmers of Ireland group began a blockade of the Musgrave food distribution centre in Kilcock, Co Kildare, on Sunday.
Trailers containing food were prevented from entering and leaving the distribution centre, although staff were allowed to come and go. Protesters said the sector was becoming unsustainable due to carbon taxes and rising fuel costs.
“We are hopeful that this dispute between the protesters and Government is resolved quickly so that the impact on our suppliers and customers is minimised during this important trading time,” Musgrave said.