Brexit

UK does not want to disrupt Republic of Ireland's trade land bridge to Europe, says Taoiseach

The movement of goods to and from the continent via British ports like Dover and Holyhead represent the most commonly used and quickest route for Irish hauliers. Picture by Jonathan Brady/PA
Michael McHugh, Press Association

The UK does not want to disrupt the Republic of Ireland's multibillion-euro trade land bridge to Europe, the Taoiseach has said.

The movement of goods to and from the continent via British ports like Dover and Holyhead represent the most commonly used and quickest route for Irish hauliers.

Micheál Martin said preservation of the overland route had been one of the key priorities of his country's Brexit planning.

He added: "We do not have the sense from the UK Government that there is in any way going to be any sort of undermining of such trade.

"They are still adamant that they want a comprehensive free trade agreement."

The transit of goods from Europe via the UK is worth billions of euro and carries thousands of vehicle movements every year, the Taoiseach said.

Much of the trade involves agri-food like fresh fish with a short shelf life.

The UK has agreed to remain part of the Common Transit Convention, which is used for moving goods between EU member states.

One of the challenges could be ensuring that Irish hauliers travelling via Britain can bypass in a timely fashion any checks on the continent imposed on UK goods after Brexit.

Mr Martin said work has been carried out with French, Belgian and Dutch authorities.

But he repeated his concerns that the UK Internal Market Bill represents a "disavowal" of the EU Withdrawal Treaty.

He said: "This is unacceptable. It does breach an international treaty and risks issues about the UK Government's commitment to any further agreements that might be arrived at."

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