Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Brit-disc raised in Dáil

The proposal to levy all haulage vehicle going through the Six Counties and Britain was raised in the Dáil last week by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. The Cavan/Monaghan TD urged the Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise Joe Jacob TD to strongly oppose the `Brit-disc' which would adversely affect Irish truckers more than any other EU country and would damage all-Ireland trade.

In the Dáil on Wednesday, 13 December, Ó Caoláin said:

``The proposed charge has already become popularly known, or should I say unpopularly known, as the `Brit-disc'. Even from the broad outline, it is clear that it would be a penalty on Irish hauliers. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, referred to introducing the system in Britain and for British roads, but unless we are otherwise informed, it has to be assumed this would apply not just to the island of Britain but to the Six Counties, which remain, for the moment at least, under Chancellor Brown's jurisdiction. In this jurisdiction, therefore, Irish hauliers will be subjected to an imposition which will be uniquely punitive, the vast majority of them having to pass through Britain, and in many cases the North of Ireland also, to get to the Continent.

``It is estimated that 80% of truckers from the 26 Counties regularly travel to or pass through the Six Counties and/or Britain. Trade with other EU countries is predominantly by that route. The Irish Road Haulage Association has stated that the `Brit-disc' would impose crippling extra costs on the trucking industry, with approximately 16,000 vehicles operating out of the Twenty Six counties being subject to the charge.

``If this charge is to go ahead it would represent an attack on Irish trade. We

are trying to build all-Ireland and cross-Border trade in the context of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and we are faced with an outrageous proposal which would reinforce the artificial frontier. In my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan there are hundreds of hauliers who would be directly affected. At a time when physical barriers with our neighbouring counties have been lifted, this charge would be a fiscal barrier.

``I have already raised this matter with Inter-Trade Ireland, the all-Ireland trade body established under the Good Friday Agreement. It has been conducting road shows around the 26 Counties in recent months to encourage cross-Border trade. A proposal such as Gordon Brown's runs totally contrary to its work also.

Ó Caoláin urged the Minister of State, Joe Jacob, ``to ensure the British Government is left in no doubt about the universal Irish opposition to this proposal''.

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