Tuesday 16 July 2019

Government will open 24-hour centre to handle post-Brexit traffic chaos


Memos: Simon Coveney will brief the Cabinet today. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Memos: Simon Coveney will brief the Cabinet today. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A major emergency plan for dealing with traffic chaos in Ireland and the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit will be assessed by Cabinet today.

The Government has plans to establish an unprecedented operation centre led by the Revenue Commissioners to monitor the movement of trucks between the two countries from October 31 onwards.

The Irish Independent understands the emergency plan, which will involve gardaí, Transport for Ireland, and officials from a number of government departments, is contained in documents to be shared with ministers today by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

It involves the 24-hour monitoring of traffic at the ports in Ireland amid fears that ferry timetables could be disrupted by issues in the UK.

A source said the centre would work as an "early detection centre" to foresee problems.

Mr Coveney will also brief colleagues about growing concerns that businesses have "eased off" in their preparations since Brexit was postponed.

He has compiled three separate memos setting out Ireland's readiness for a crash-out Brexit at Halloween.

The first is an update on the existing Contingency Action Plan, which will run to around 100 pages and cover 20 different areas.

It contains extremely stark warnings about the affect of a no-deal Brexit on the all-island economy.

On the back of this report the Government will issue a "fresh call to action" for business with just 114 days until the new Brexit date. In particular they will urge businesses who export goods to prepare for changes to the customs regime.

The second memo deals with ports and airports. Temporary preparations were in place for customs checks had Brexit occurred last March as originally planned - but these have now been upgraded to semi-permanent status over recent months.

Ministers will today give the green light for them to be further enhanced with a view to retaining them in the long term. There will be a particular focus on facilitates at Dublin Port and Rosslare Europort.

Finally, the Government will discuss the rollout of a major communications campaign over the summer and into autumn.

This has already started with a push to encourage drivers with UK licences to apply for an Irish one.

Mr Coveney told a gathering of foreign ambassadors at Dublin Castle yesterday that there would be a "step change" when it came to communications.

He warned against complacency, saying that postponement of Brexit until October 31 was seen as a opportunity by some industries to "ease off" in their preparations.

Mr Coveney said the Government would be using the summer period to get that the message out "in very blunt terms" that businesses need to tune back into the risks.

This has commenced with the introduction of the driving licence advertising campaign.

It comes as the favourite to become British prime minister Boris Johnson again pledged that he would take the UK out of the European Union on October 31 "come what may".

Mr Johnson said yesterday that he would get the country "match fit for no deal" and insisted that there would be "no second chances".

Irish Independent

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