Tuesday 25 July 2017

Irish truck drivers 'will be attacked' in Calais, claims hauliers' group

David Kearns

The government will have 'blood on its hands' unless action is taken to protect Irish lorry drivers passing through Calais, where hundreds of migrants have been spotted forcing their way into lorries bound for the UK.

The Irish Road Haulage Association claimed “it was only a matter of time” before an Irish lorry driver was attacked by migrants, many of whom “were armed with knifes” said IRHA president Verona Murphy.

“Our drivers lives are being put at risk as no action is being taken against migrants,” she told RTE’s Liveline.

“Our grave concern is that there is going to be a driver who is injured or worst, killed.

“That’s why we calling on the government to intervene and work with the UK and French authorities to stop this escalating threat to Irish truck drivers.”

French authorities have drafted extra police into Calais to try to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes which paralysed the port on Tuesday.

A migrant sleeps under a life blanket, along a motorway leading to a ferry port to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France
A migrant sleeps under a life blanket, along a motorway leading to a ferry port to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France
Migrants sleep along a motorway leading to a ferry port to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France
A migrant inspects a truck as lorries wait in line on the motorway which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France
French gendarmes stand guard near a line of lorries on the motorway which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal to prevent the migrants from attempting a clandestine crossing to England through the Channel in Calais, northern France
A group of migrants gather near a line of lorries waiting on the motorway which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France.
A police vehicle passes by as lorries stand queued up between junctions 8 and 9 of the M20 motorway

Hundreds of migrants took advantage of a strike by ferry workers to target UK bound lorries stuck at the entrances to the port and the Eurotunnel.

Drivers found to be transporting migrants face a £2,500 fine, regardless if they knew migrants were on board their lorry.

Migrants sleep along a motorway leading to a ferry port to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France
Migrants sleep along a motorway leading to a ferry port to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France

“It’s very unfair the way it’s been going. These drivers are just trying to make a living , they can’t stop the migrants from getting into their lorries because they’re massively out-numbered,” said Irish truck driver Martin.

Speaking from France, he told Liveline that he had spoken to other Irish lorry drivers who had been stuck in Calais yesterday for “nine hours straight without moving”.

French gendarmes stand guard near a line of lorries on the motorway which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal to prevent the migrants from attempting a clandestine crossing to England through the Channel in Calais, northern France
French gendarmes stand guard near a line of lorries on the motorway which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal to prevent the migrants from attempting a clandestine crossing to England through the Channel in Calais, northern France

“I came out through Calais on Saturday and it was like a warzone, I’m glad I’m not heading back that way today,” he said.

“What [the migrants] are doing is throwing up road blocks and stopping lorries so gangs of them can try to get on board while its stop.

“They break locks, cut curtains, do whatever they can to get in.

“It’s like a village up there, there’s so many of them. We can’t park within two hours of Calais because of it. Insurance company wouldn’t allow it.”

Martin added: “It’s only a matter of time before a driver gets seriously hurt.”

About 3,000 migrants are estimated to be living rough around Calais.

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