Hauliers preparing for major protest

Donegal haulier John McLaughlin of Convoy and George Mills of the Irish Road Haulage Association said the nation’s hauliers may be ready to shut down ports to protest the government’s budget.

Donegal haulier John McLaughlin of Convoy and George Mills of the Irish Road Haulage Association said the nation’s hauliers may be ready to shut down ports to protest the government’s budget.

Mr Mills called such a protest “a last resort for us”, but said, “We really have exhausted every other resource.”

“There’s going to be a massive demonstration this time,” Mr McLaughlin said.

The budget increases petrol by 1.4 cent and diesel by 1.6 cent per litre, and also raises taxes on commercial vehicles.

“The amount of people getting hurt at the moment is unbelievable,” Mr McLaughlin said. “We can’t take any more.”

Yesterday, Mr. Mills of Culdaff said that when Mr McLaughlin proposed a similar demonstration earlier this year, the association “decided it was best to go the negotiating route”. But Mr. Mills said the time and money the association invested in negotiations and its pre-budget submission made no difference.

“John was right then and he’s more right now,” Mr Mills said. He said the government’s failure to accept the association’s recommendations “has been a hard lesson to learn, but if it does one thing it adds 100 percent legitimacy to any more militant protest that might follow.

“And I for one will no longer be calling for cool heads when it comes,” he said.

Mr McLaughlin said hauliers at a recent Cork meeting supported plans for a protest and there will be meetings this week in Dublin and Limerick.

“There’s going to be a mass protest, something along French lines,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “We’re going to go there, but we’re going to stay there.

“There will be nothing moving until something’s done this time,” he said.