Trade plates discrimination must stop, says Harkin

Ireland North & West MEP Marian Harkin has called on Northern Irish authorities to enforce European free movement laws and immediately cease the discriminatory practice of clamping cars displaying Republic of Ireland trade plates.

Ireland North & West MEP Marian Harkin has called on Northern Irish authorities to enforce European free movement laws and immediately cease the discriminatory practice of clamping cars displaying Republic of Ireland trade plates.

The Independent MEP’s engagement on this issue began when she was contacted by a constituent, Paul Dunleavy, who runs the “Modern Motors” car dealership in Letterkenny, County Donegal.

In 2009, Mr. Dunleavy, who has 20 years experience freely transporting cars between England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, had a vehicle - registered in the UK but displaying Republic of Ireland (ROI) Trade Plates - clamped by the Driver Vehicle Authority (DVA) in County Derry.

Having instigated legal proceedings, a judge ruled in Mr. Dunleavy’s favour, and the clamping was subsequently thrown out of court, and his fine returned by the DVA. Then, in June 2011, an identical clamping incident occurred, and though Mr. Dunleavy’s fine was again returned, he was informed by a DVA official that he would under no circumstances be permitted to drive cars in Northern Ireland while displaying ROI trade plates.

Believing this action to be in breach of EU rules on the free movement of goods and services, Harkin this week brought Mr. Dunleavy to Brussels, where he met with European Commission officials from the EU Executive’s Enterprise and Industry section and received a favourable hearing.

“At the end of the day, this issue concerns the free movement of goods and services - nothing more, nothing less,” Harkin said.

“These rules apply right across the European Union, across all borders. Hopefully, with the intervention of the European Commission, this matter can be satisfactorily resolved,” the Ireland North & West MEP concluded.