Call for Irish harmonisation of enforcement and compliance

Armagh, Northern Ireland: The differences in compliance and enforcement of road transport regulation in Ireland and Northern Ireland is distorting the market for transport.

The overwhelming consensus among participants of the All Island Freight Forum held on 28 June was that safety and compliance must be harmonised across the north and south of the island of Ireland, says the Freight Transport Association, which operates in both countries.

Pointing to the stark difference in compliance enforcement between the north and south, Tom Wilson, head of policy for Northern Ireland at the Freight Transport Association said: “The overwhelming consensus for a more decisive move towards the harmonisation of road freight compliance across the whole island of Ireland was absolutely clear.

“By expediting operator licensing in the north, we would really help improve the odds of seeing a similar degree of compliance in the south. This would be good news for all road users as it would effectively help drive out the rogue vehicle operators that are a menace on the island’s roads.”

The All Island Freight Forum was set up last year by the Department of Transport in Dublin and the Department for Regional Development in Belfast. The group has evolved from the Belfast Agreement with its primary objective to develop freight networks on the island and those with world markets.

Wilson said: “This Forum always provides lively and informed debate about various elements affecting logistics on the island, which is of course a never ending topic of debate.

“Whether you are in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland one thing holds true, freight transport is the essential lifeblood of the economy. Having a joined-up approach to vehicle operator compliance between neighbours is vital if we are to see meaningful improvements on our roads.

“The Forum’s work continues with plans to develop a robust accreditation scheme for operators – something already warmly-received by the Road Safety Authority in the Republic of Ireland – but we still have a mountain to climb to improve the reputation of our transport operators which currently languishes at the bottom of the EU league table on safety and compliance.”

The All Island Freight Forum met at the North South Ministerial Council in Armagh on 28 June.

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