Ross unable to say if cross-Border drivers without ‘green cards’ will be prosecuted

If there is no breakthrough on Brexit the insurance industry will begin issuing cards on request from next month

Shane Ross: he  told the transport committee he was confident shipping companies could provide sufficient direct sailings to Europe for hauliers opting to avoid the UK landbridge

Shane Ross: he told the transport committee he was confident shipping companies could provide sufficient direct sailings to Europe for hauliers opting to avoid the UK landbridge

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said he does not know if drivers crossing the Border after a no-deal Brexit without an insurance “green card” will face prosecution.

If there is no breakthrough on Brexit the insurance industry will begin issuing cards from next month on request, and will require one month’s notice from customers. The cards will be required to prove drivers moving in both directions are insured.

Appearing before the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Wednesday, Mr Ross was challenged on the gaps in knowledge around the requirement, and how it would affect the thousands of drivers who cross the Border every day.

Committee chair Fergus O’Dowd said the issue could cause delays to Border county businesses, and would be a “significant adverse issue” if the cards were not issued automatically before the end of March.

Mr Ross said it was up to the insurance companies on both sides of the Border to communicate with customers.

Asked whether there would be cost implications for drivers, he said “not that I know of”.

“Not having a green card if stopped could lead to difficulties in proving that you are insured to drive,” he said, when asked about the implications.

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“I don’t know...will they be prosecuted for it. Certainly they are required to [carry it].”

Unsure

Sinn Féin Louth TD Imelda Munster said people remained unsure if they had to carry the cards. “If they are in a crash are they covered? If they haven’t got it how do they go about it? Will there be a cost?”

“I don’t know whether we’re waiting till the eleventh hour to put this out, but for the 34,000 people who cross the Border on a daily basis [they] need to know well in advance.”

At one stage the meeting was suspended when Ms Munster refused to back down in demanding an answer from the Minister if he had personally intervened on the issue, and whether he would release the relevant correspondence.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said there could be an issue around the seizure of cars where insurance could not be proven.

Mr Ross said he agreed the need to carry green cards “should not last forever, and the earlier that we take them out of existence the better”.

He also told the committee he was confident shipping companies could provide sufficient direct sailings to Europe for hauliers opting to avoid the UK “landbridge”.

Perishable goods

The threat of long queues for port inspections has been among the chief concerns of a no-deal Brexit, particularly for perishable goods exported from Ireland. Three million tonnes of merchandise move between Ireland and the continent via the landbridge, with an average of 2,880 heavy goods trips every week, the committee heard.

However, Mr Ross conceded that while the potential ship capacity was there, the longer journeys would not be a viable option for many hauliers.

Trucks can reach continental European destinations in less than 20 hours via the landbridge, compared with up to 40 hours by sea to France.

The Minister also addressed forthcoming legislation designed to ensure continued cross-Border bus and rail travel, particularly the Enterprise train service, in the event of a no-deal UK departure. He said passports would not be required.

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