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'Doomsday scenario' looms as hauliers prepare to hold vote on road blockades

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Farmers and truck drivers in Hampshire, England, take part in a 'go-slow' protest against spiralling fuel prices at the weekend. The
Irish Road Haulage Association says Ireland may witness similar scenes in coming weeks.

Farmers and truck drivers in Hampshire, England, take part in a 'go-slow' protest against spiralling fuel prices at the weekend. The Irish Road Haulage Association says Ireland may witness similar scenes in coming weeks.

Farmers and truck drivers in Hampshire, England, take part in a 'go-slow' protest against spiralling fuel prices at the weekend. The Irish Road Haulage Association says Ireland may witness similar scenes in coming weeks.

IRISH truckers will vote this week on whether to launch British and French-style rolling blockades of national roads in protest at the spiralling cost of fuel.

Hauliers have been carefully watching the trawler dispute over the past 10 days and the success of the blockades mounted by Irish fishermen of various ports nationwide in protest at falling fish prices and spiralling diesel costs.

Hauliers are now determined to secure concessions from the Government in the face of what they have warned is the single biggest threat to their industry in more than 30 years.

They say Ireland now faces the 'Doomsday scenario' of the total shutdown of the haulage sector with multi-million losses for businesses nationwide unless the Government moves to tackle the fuel crisis.

The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) warned the Government and Irish business leaders that fuel surcharges and a crackdown on 'cowboy' operators were now crucial to avoiding chaos within the industry.

Protests by truckers furious at the spiralling fuel prices have also taken place in Britain, Belgium, Spain and Germany.

The IRHA warned that there was massive support for such high-profile nationwide protests in Ireland in the wake of the alarming hike in fuel costs and the erosion of truckers' incomes.

Meeting

The warning came after a meeting of more than 300 furious haulage operators in Cork, many of whom face having their livelihoods wiped out by the spiralling price of diesel and ruthless under-cutting by unlicensed operators. A key meeting in Dublin will this week hammer out details of the protest campaign.

Haulage boss Jimmy Quinn warned that truck drivers across the country were struggling to cope with the 30pc-plus spiral in the price of fuels over recent months.

"Ireland will not have a transport sector if our members do not receive proper rates for their work," he stressed.

Mr Quinn stressed that the IRHA was not attempting to threaten the Government or business, but was instead engaged in a simple fight for survival.