Hauliers threaten to block motorways and ports in further protest

Hauliers who brought traffic in Dublin to a standstill this week in a protest over fuel prices have threatened to hold a much bigger demonstration in early December if no action is taken by the Government.

The Irish Trucker Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices said its supporters would hold a second protest in the first week of December involving lorries, trucks and tractors unless fuel costs are reduced.

“Traffic will be fully stopped next time and all ports will be blocked as well as motorways,” the group said, calling on hauliers, truckers and farmers to join the pre-Christmas blockade.

“If we don’t get cheaper fuel, we have the strength and numbers to bring this country to a halt,” the group added in a social-media post on Thursday.

Yellow vests

An Independent TD who supports the group said on Thursday that the protest had the potential to become similar to the ‘gilets jaunes’ [yellow vests]protests in France, which also occurred over rising costs of fuel.

Limerick TD Richard O’Donoghue said: “The next protest will be one of the biggest that the country has ever seen. It could be the falling of the Government if it happened.

“The Government could be brought down if they fail to protect people in a national emergency.”

Mr O’Donoghue brought a large truck to the Leinster House car park in solidarity with the protesters, who are a new group without an identifiable spokesperson, and who make statements only on social media. Neither he nor others connected were able to say why the group has adopted this approach.

Average fuel prices for petrol and diesel are at a record high, according to data collected by the AA.

The average price for unleaded petrol is now 172.6 cent per litre, while diesel is now 163.3 cent per litre, the highest since the AA started recording filling prices in 1991.

Mr O’Donoghue said that some truckers and hauliers were paying an extra €240 a week, or €1,000 a month, in fuel.

“It’s not just truckers, it is everybody. Not enough is being done. You will have trucks parked up soon that are going nowhere,” he said.

He called on the Government to give a six-month pause on fuel taxes, which recently increased by 2 per cent to 19 per cent.

Eugene Drennan of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) said it fully supported and understood the reasons behind the protests but believed such protests in the run-up to Christmas, which caused widespread disruption for other people, was not the best way to address the problem.

He said that for many hauliers fuel prices had increased dramatically while income had been flat and they could not get more money from those who contract them.

He said protests such as the one this week was “not for us as a national body”.

He said the membership of the IRHA of 4,000, representing more than 40,000 lorries, wanted to go another way which was through lobbying, and that was continuing. He said the type of protest this week was “too loose and too high risk”. The group organising it had not approached the IRHA and were not members, he added.

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