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 Header Item Cabotage Regulations (Continued)
 Header Item Health Services Provision

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 825 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] The non-resident haulier is also subject to the laws, regulations and administrative provisions in force in the host member state with regard to the conditions governing the transport contract; the weights and dimensions of road vehicles; the requirements relating to the carriage of certain categories of goods, particularly dangerous goods, perishable foodstuffs and live animals; the driving time and rest periods; and the value added tax, VAT, on transport services.

As the Community continues towards a single European market, it is likely that restrictions such as cabotage will be removed. This liberalisation of transport services is supported by the Government. The current cabotage regime in operation across the European Union is largely a protectionist regime that serves to protect domestic operators. The strict operation of cabotage in the United Kingdom, for example, has had negative impacts on Irish hauliers seeking to operate in that market. However, cabotage restrictions are still in place and within that context, I view it as important that the current cabotage rules are enforced here until the market is fully liberalised, to protect our domestic or resident hauliers.

The enforcement of the EU cabotage rules ensures that our national road haulage market operates in a similar manner to the internal markets of other countries. It ensures that our road haulage industry is not placed at a competitive disadvantage, and it also ensures that non-resident hauliers operate in accordance with EU legislation.

The enforcement of cabotage regulations is the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána. I am aware that the enforcement authorities and my Department work closely together and assist one another in ensuring the application and monitoring of cabotage regulations. I assure the Deputy that, at our quarterly road safety meetings with the Garda and the Road Safety Authority, enforcement of haulage laws in general is always on the agenda.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley While the Minister has set out his and the Department's position, it is worth noting that while the cabotage laws are in place, it is vital that we protect our haulage sector. As an island nation, we need to have indigenous road haulage operators in place. Operators in other countries, particularly in central Europe, can move trucks freely and, therefore, provide an adequate transportation service for the movement of goods. I am concerned that if our domestic operators end up going out of business because of this unfair competition, we may be left in a very negative position at a later stage. We depend so much on our haulage sector to export the goods that are so vital to our economy. Anything that could undermine the sector in the shorter term could only be damaging to future economic growth and activity.

The Minister will be aware that it is alleged by those who have a very clear view of what is going on that approximately 43% of foreign trucks entering the country engage in illegal haulage activity, as set out under the cabotage rules. We understand that there is really no enforcement of vehicle weights, dimensions and tachograph laws for the foreign operators who are plying their trade here. There is no doubt but that they have an unfair advantage over the domestic hauliers resulting in the displacement of the work in the trade.

I ask the Minister to utilise his position at Cabinet level to urge the Minister for Justice and Equality to make clear to the Garda Commissioner that while there are cabotage laws in place, they should be enforced to the full extent. The Minister is correct that domestic hauliers who travel to the United Kingdom are put under pressure and forced to recognise the laws there. We must level the playing pitch as best we can. I look forward to some action early in the new year by the Government in this regard.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have a few points. It is important to reiterate that the Government's position is that we should not have cabotage and that there should be a genuine single market. The restrictions should not exist provided each country in the European Union has the same safety and social standards. In the meantime, the law should be enforced.

I was interested to hear Deputy Dooley's statistics. I may have heard them before but I do not recall hearing them. If he passes them on to me, I will certainly distribute them at the next meeting with the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Síochána and ask them for their views on them. Where enforcement is concerned, we often hear only one side of the story, however. People complain when enforcement does not happen but may not tell one when it does. The Deputy raised the issue of the ESB's Carrickmines site. I received an e-mail today in this regard from a foreign haulier whose name I will not give. He states he is from a company that tried last night to deliver a power transformer to the ESB's Carrickmines site and that the delivery was blocked at the port by the Road Safety Authority. The delivery could not go ahead as the inspector said the company was not following cabotage rules. The correspondent states he is informed that the Road Safety Authority will follow instructions given by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and that his company is seeking that the Minister and Department intervene. It is stated that what occurred could result in the omission of a serious piece of the ESB infrastructure for the Dublin area and could result in issues with the electricity network in Dublin. The company states it is looking forward to a derogation in this case in the knowledge that there is no transport company in Ireland with the specialist equipment to move the transformer. This is the kind of stuff I get all the time. Foreign hauliers believe I will change the law just for them. I do not do so. In this case, the Garda refused to escort the haulier.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley I am very pleased that placing this on the Order Paper yesterday might have resulted in action. Perhaps we have had a result all round.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am not sure that is true but if it is, credit must be given where it is due. There is absolutely no way that we will again permit a set of circumstances in which gardaí end up escorting goods against the cabotage laws, whether they realise it or not.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley I thank the Minister. That was very helpful. The action of the Road Safety Authority last night was certainly helpful.

Health Services Provision

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I am raising this issue on behalf of some parents who have boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare disease that affects approximately 100 boys in Ireland. Before I discuss the specific circumstances of the parents on whose behalf I am speaking, I wish to put on record the good work and good service delivery at the Central Remedial Clinic, CRC, in respect of various sectors. Some parents send their boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy to the clinic. It is important to record that I am not speaking on their behalf but on behalf of parents of boys who do not attend there. Approximately a dozen parents bring their boys to Newcastle, the reason being that bisphosphonates are available there on prescription. In conjunction with steroids, this treatment is producing very positive results for the boys. According to one of the parents, the survival rate is staggering. Another parent has said to me that all parents are trying to do is keep their children on their feet for as long as possible.

  With Duchenne muscular dystrophy, best practice changes nearly every six months. It is a new area. There is a clinical trial site in Newcastle but none here. This presents a difficulty for the dozen or so families who are sending their boys to the United Kingdom.

  There is a new administration temporarily in charge of the CRC. We are all aware that the board has stepped down and that the chairman is no longer in situ. There is a new administrator. All I am asking on behalf of the dozen or so affected parents is that the new administrator meet the parents and listen to them. They have experience of very good service delivery in Newcastle. They want to bring something to the table that might be of value and help in the delivery of services here. This is not about saying one service is better than the other; it is required of the Government to be big enough to say that if there are new ideas being applied in Newcastle, it is willing to learn from them. All I ask is that the dozen or so parents be listened to because they could bring value to the debate and be of benefit to the other parents in Ireland whose affected boys are just on steroids and who do not have the opportunity to take bisphosphonate.

  For many years, I have been advocating the location of a clinical trial site in this country.

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