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Fleet Transport Ireland
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Countdown is on to the Fleet Transport Awards 2016

Only a few days remain, and excitement is mounting ahead of the Fleet Transport Awards Gala Dinner and Awards presentation, which take place on Thursday 3rd September at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin.

The Fleet Transport Awards programme is firmly established and is highly regarded as the most valued and respected in the road transport industry. Business associates, clients, partners and friends are all welcome to attend the Fleet Transport Awards 2016, where once again the event provides a platform for the sector to celebrate best practice, and is an excellent environment in which to network with delegates and new contacts and set foundations for future business relationships.

Only a very limited number of tickets to the Awards Dinner remain. Anyone wishing to attend this prestigious event should contact the Awards Team on +353 94 93 72819 - Tickets are priced at €85 + VAT.

The Pre-Awards Welcome Reception commences at 18.30 hrs followed by Gala Dinner and Awards presentation. Dress Code for the event in Lounge Suit for Men and Cocktail Dress for the Ladies. The Master of Ceremonies for the Awards Gala event is TV personality Marty Whelan. Guest Speaker is Pat McDonagh, M.D. Supermac's with entertainment by The Kilkennys.

Attendees to the Awards are encouraged to arrive at Citywest in good time as from 12 noon there will be aFleet Transport Energy Futures Forum LIVE! Ride & Drive event, together with the outdoor Exhibition Arena which will have a selection of the latest commercial vehicle products on display. In addition, the Grand Final to determine Ireland's Best Truck Driver will take place. 


Don't hesitate, book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.
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Fleet Transport is delighted to announce, in association with Rosslare Europort, the launch of its 2016 Awards programme with 16 qualifying categories this year. If you are a Road Transport Operator in Ireland, however big or small, you are eligible to enter the awards. Simply click on the link below and enter on line. Alternatively you can download a hard copy application form here. The Closing Date for receipt of entries is Friday 29th May and the Shortlist will be announced in June with the interviews taking place in July and the shortlist will be featured in the July edition of Fleet Transport magazine.

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Dáil Debates - Wednesday, 18 December 2013
 
Timmy Dooley
I welcome the opportunity to contribute on this issue, which, as the Minister is well aware, is of great concern to the road haulage sector. It certainly appears that Irish authorities have barely policed the cabotage legislation, which has resulted in the awarding of haulage contracts worth millions of euro to foreign haulage firms that pay no taxes in Ireland and employ no people here. The Road Safety Authority is responsible for the enforcement of legislation, along with the Garda, and its figures reveal that from 2012 to July 2013 only 78 vehicles were checked in Ireland and only a single breach of the regulations was uncovered. That is too little investigation. In comparison, the UK Department of Transport made over 43,000 checks relating to cabotage legislation, with 310 offences detected.
The legislation allows every haulier to perform up to three deliveries or cabotage operations within a week, starting the day after the unloading of international cargo in the country of destination. This was introduced by the EU to avoid an influx of drivers on lower wages flooding the EU markets. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport previously indicated that it was monitoring the level of investigations carried out by the relevant authorities. The head of the Irish Road Haulage Association, Mr. Eoin Galvin, has previously had meetings with the Minister, who promised to clamp down on breaches of the law. I accept that to some extent this falls outside the Minister's remit, as it is a matter for the Garda and the Department of Justice and Equality; nevertheless, he will have to use his influence to protect the road haulage sector because of what has been happening in the summer and is continuing even now.
As the Minister knows, the issue came to light over the summer after a number of foreign hauliers were found to be operating out of Foynes Port, forcing the Irish Road Haulage Association to resort to a blockade when local hauliers had to lay off drivers after contracts were given to foreign firms. In my view, which is shared by many, these firms were acting illegally and flouting the cabotage laws as applied here. At least four haulage companies from Germany, Holland, Scotland and the North appear to be flouting European cabotage legislation, which bans foreign hauliers from doing more than three journeys in a country before they leave. The firms have been involved in the transport of parts for wind turbines being imported by Siemens through Foynes Port. The legislation signed into law by the Minister in January 2012 allows every haulier to perform up to three deliveries or cabotage operations within a week, starting the day after the unloading of international cargo. However, it is illegal for haulage vehicles to enter the State empty and then carry deliveries. I have had the opportunity to visit Foynes port and see what is going on down there, and it appears that trucks and specialised moving equipment are being brought in without any loads and then being used to take heavy, outsized equipment from the port to various destinations, particularly where wind turbines are being placed. It is clear that this is being done in breach of cabotage laws. What is most surprising is that most of these wide loads, because of their nature, get a Garda escort. These people appear to be breaking the law, but they are being escorted in their work by the police, who are acting from a road safety perspective.
Within the past month the Irish Road Haulage Association has alleged that UK-registered trucks have entered the State and carried out deliveries for the ESB to the Carrickmines site from Dublin Port, again with the escort of gardaí. I am not making any allegations against gardaí, who are carrying out a job in travelling with these loads to protect other vehicles on the road, ensure traffic is not delayed, etc. In essence, these companies are breaking a law of the State, which is regrettable, and the issue needs the involvement of this Minister and the Minister for Justice and Equality. The Garda should also review its actions in this regard.

Leo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Dublin West, Fine Gael)

I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. As he is aware, the area of cabotage is not straightforward and there can be confusion as to what is covered by the cabotage regulations. Furthermore, the continued existence of cabotage restriction with the European Union is to a large extent an anomaly in the context of the free movement of goods and services.
Cabotage is the national carriage of goods for hire or reward carried out by non-resident hauliers on a temporary basis in a host member state. Haulage cabotage operations are governed by Regulation (EC) 1072/2009. In accordance with this regulation, non-resident hauliers are permitted to conduct up to three cabotage operations within a seven-day period after the inbound international carriage of goods from another member state or a third country. Advance permission is not required for a non­resident haulier to carry out the cabotage operations in accordance with the regulation. However, there are conditions which must be met. The first is that the non-resident haulier must hold a community licence qualifying him or her to operate internationally; and the second is that the non-resident haulier must produce clear evidence of incoming international carriage and of each subsequent cabotage operation carried out in the host member state, to a maximum of three operations.
The non-resident haulier is also subject to the laws, regulations and administrative provisions in force in the host member state with regard to the conditions governing the transport contract; the weights and dimensions of road vehicles; the requirements relating to the carriage of certain categories of goods, particularly dangerous goods, perishable foodstuffs and live animals; the driving time and rest periods; and the value added tax, VAT, on transport services.
As the Community continues towards a single European market, it is likely that restrictions such as cabotage will be removed. This liberalisation of transport services is supported by the Government. The current cabotage regime in operation across the European Union is largely a protectionist regime that serves to protect domestic operators. The strict operation of cabotage in the United Kingdom, for example, has had negative impacts on Irish hauliers seeking to operate in that market. However, cabotage restrictions are still in place and within that context, I view it as important that the current cabotage rules are enforced here until the market is fully liberalised, to protect our domestic or resident hauliers.
The enforcement of the EU cabotage rules ensures that our national road haulage market operates in a similar manner to the internal markets of other countries. It ensures that our road haulage industry is not placed at a competitive disadvantage, and it also ensures that non-resident hauliers operate in accordance with EU legislation.
The enforcement of cabotage regulations is the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána. I am aware that the enforcement authorities and my Department work closely together and assist one another in ensuring the application and monitoring of cabotage regulations. I assure the Deputy that, at our quarterly road safety meetings with the Garda and the Road Safety Authority, enforcement of haulage laws in general is always on the agenda.

2:30 pm
Timmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)

While the Minister has set out his and the Department's position, it is worth noting that while the cabotage laws are in place, it is vital that we protect our haulage sector. As an island nation, we need to have indigenous road haulage operators in place. Operators in other countries, particularly in central Europe, can move trucks freely and, therefore, provide an adequate transportation service for the movement of goods. I am concerned that if our domestic operators end up going out of business because of this unfair competition, we may be left in a very negative position at a later stage. We depend so much on our haulage sector to export the goods that are so vital to our economy. Anything that could undermine the sector in the shorter term could only be damaging to future economic growth and activity.
The Minister will be aware that it is alleged by those who have a very clear view of what is going on that approximately 43% of foreign trucks entering the country engage in illegal haulage activity, as set out under the cabotage rules. We understand that there is really no enforcement of vehicle weights, dimensions and tachograph laws for the foreign operators who are plying their trade here. There is no doubt but that they have an unfair advantage over the domestic hauliers resulting in the displacement of the work in the trade.
I ask the Minister to utilise his position at Cabinet level to urge the Minister for Justice and Equality to make clear to the Garda Commissioner that while there are cabotage laws in place, they should be enforced to the full extent. The Minister is correct that domestic hauliers who travel to the United Kingdom are put under pressure and forced to recognise the laws there. We must level the playing pitch as best we can. I look forward to some action early in the new year by the Government in this regard.

Leo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Dublin West, Fine Gael)

I have a few points. It is important to reiterate that the Government's position is that we should not have cabotage and that there should be a genuine single market. The restrictions should not exist provided each country in the European Union has the same safety and social standards. In the meantime, the law should be enforced.
I was interested to hear Deputy Dooley's statistics. I may have heard them before but I do not recall hearing them. If he passes them on to me, I will certainly distribute them at the next meeting with the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Síochána and ask them for their views on them. Where enforcement is concerned, we often hear only one side of the story, however. People complain when enforcement does not happen but may not tell one when it does. The Deputy raised the issue of the ESB's Carrickmines site. I received an e-mail today in this regard from a foreign haulier whose name I will not give. He states he is from a company that tried last night to deliver a power transformer to the ESB's Carrickmines site and that the delivery was blocked at the port by the Road Safety Authority. The delivery could not go ahead as the inspector said the company was not following cabotage rules. The correspondent states he is informed that the Road Safety Authority will follow instructions given by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and that his company is seeking that the Minister and Department intervene. It is stated that what occurred could result in the omission of a serious piece of the ESB infrastructure for the Dublin area and could result in issues with the electricity network in Dublin. The company states it is looking forward to a derogation in this case in the knowledge that there is no transport company in Ireland with the specialist equipment to move the transformer. This is the kind of stuff I get all the time. Foreign hauliers believe I will change the law just for them. I do not do so. In this case, the Garda refused to escort the haulier.

Timmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)

I am very pleased that placing this on the Order Paper yesterday might have resulted in action. Perhaps we have had a result all round.

Leo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Dublin West, Fine Gael)


I am not sure that is true but if it is, credit must be given where it is due. There is absolutely no way that we will again permit a set of circumstances in which gardaí end up escorting goods against the cabotage laws, whether they realise it or not.

Timmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister. That was very helpful. The action of the Road Safety Authority last night was certainly helpful.

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