Truckers halt city traffic in €4k tax protest
Truckers brought traffic chaos to the capital this morning with a lightning blockade at Dublin Port.
Commuters were stuck in traffic for hours as scores of articulated trucks blocked the port, refusing to let goods vehicles out of the docks.
The move was to highlight what they say is the massive cost of road tax for HGV drivers here compared to the UK and Northern Ireland.
The Irish Road Hauliers Association (IRHA) says it costs €4,000 to tax a HGV in Dublin, but only £640 (€808) in Newry.
Traffic backed-up quickly as a result of the blockade and the southbound bore of the Port Tunnel had to be closed for a time, leading to heavy traffic on the M1 from Junction 5 at Balbriggan all the way to the Port Tunnel.
At one point there were reports that it was taking two hours to get from Malahide to Fairview.
There was large-scale disruption on the quays when the East Wall Road was blocked inbound at the North Wall Quay roundabout, with more delays between Alexandra Road and North Strand.
"The M1 was the worst affected with long tailbacks because of the partial closure of the Port Tunnel," said an AA Roadwatch spokesperson.
The strike began at 5am without any warning, and continued until 8.30am.
But the long tailbacks had already affected thousands of early morning commuters and it took a long time for traffic to normalise.
Defending the actions of the truck drivers, Gerry McMahon, honorary secretary of the IRHA, said it was not a decision that was taken lightly.
"We had a national council meeting on Saturday evening and there was a lot of anger at it. It was felt that something had to be done immediately because nothing was coming from talks alone," he told the Herald.
"Part of the problem is that three different departments, Finance, Environment and Transport, are involved and it gets passed from one to the other, but the problem is a Government one and it has to be sorted out," he added.
"Things have come to a head and this morning's disruption is the result. Someone in government has to grasp the nettle at this stage," said Mr McMahon.
He apologised to anyone who was caught up in the traffic that resulted from the truckers' action.
"We're not in the business of discommoding the public, and this was a last resort, but we're now hoping to get into a process to resolve this and hope the Government sees we won't be palmed-off anymore," he said.
"There were five to six hundred trucks impacted by the blockade. That's where the supermarket shelves of the country get stacked from," Mr McMahon explained.
"50,000 jobs are represented here this morning," said IRHA president Eoin Gavin.
"We've been in front of Oireachtas Finance Committees and Transports Committees, we've met with TDs and Ministers, but we are very disappointed with the response, there was no response in the budget last week," he added.