Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that the Government response to a potential loss of over fifty thousand jobs in the Irish road hauliers sector radically underestimates the severity of the crisis. Deputy McGrath made his comments after raising the matter with the Taoiseach in the Order of Business in the Dáil:
“There have been numerous attempts to press the Department of Transport and the Government to explain or provide a reasonable justification as to why it costs Irish Road Hauliers €4,000 to tax every six-axle truck in Ireland, compared to £640 (€823) in Northern Ireland.
Nothing like a substantive or meaningful reply has been forthcoming.
This delay has allowed the situation to develop to breaking point. Announcing jobs is fantastic for everyone and the Government loves to say what it is doing to create new employment; but all of this becomes absurd when it is doing next to nothing to prevent the loss of nearly 50,000 existing jobs in a sector which is vital to the Irish economy overall.
Even if our own hauliers can meet the exorbitant costs associated with taxing six-axle vehicles, they are faced with an almost graver hurdle in the form of a ludicrous tax of £10 on every truck entering the UK.
I would urge the Minister for Transport Pascal Donohue to reconsider his position that he will only meet with hauliers after they lift the threat of strike action and also ask him to speed up the process of the working group which is in place to examine the issue surrounding the disparity in road tax costs.
Every day that this issue is allowed to continue it injects real and dangerous instability into a sector that is already suffering from fierce competition.
We should be doing everything in our power to support this valuable indigenous sector and avoid the kind of procrastination that has led us to the current impasse,” concluded Deputy McGrath.