Irish freight firms on alert as migrants flee ‘jungle camp’

Irish freight operators have been warned to be on their guard as migrants move out of the so-called ‘jungle camp’ in Calais and try to get out of France via other ports.

Irish freight firms on alert as migrants flee ‘jungle camp’

The warning has been issued by the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI) following two recent incidents where migrant stowaways managed to get into Ireland.

Last Saturday nine Kurdish stowaways were discovered on an Irish truck returning from Cherbourg, and on Monday gardaí found a further four Afghans in a container which had also arrived from the same French port.

French riot police are braced for further clashes with refugees as the demolition of parts of the Calais migrant camp known as the ‘Jungle’ resumes.

The French authorities want to relocate people from the squalid, rat-infested site to heated containers nearby or other centres around France.

FTAI general manager Neil McDonnell said in recent weeks it had been informed that migrants were attempting to access Ireland and Britain through smaller ports such as Dunkirk, Cherbourg and Roscoff where security wasn’t as tight as in Calais. He said that many of his members had tried to avoid the Calais area in the past because of the risk posed by migrants.

He said that instead of using the Rosslare-Fishguard and Dover-Calais crossings from mainland Europe they were using the Rosslare-Cherbourg route.

This is costing his members an extra €700 on a return trip, but it’s not as bad as being faced with a €2,573 fine from the British Border Force for every migrant found in their vehicles.

As early as last October Mr McDonnell said one of his members reported 18 migrants hiding in a trailer he was supposed to pick up in Rosslare.

He said there had been a number of confrontations reported by members who had rocks pelted at their windscreens and who had been personally attacked as well by migrants.

However, he said more attacks were being carried out on drivers from Northern Ireland, many of whom were still crossing into Britain and using the Dover-Calais sea route.

“There are a lot of very desperate people [migrants] who will try anything to get onboard lorries or containers,” Mr McDonnell said.

“They [the French authorities] are dismantling the ‘jungle’ and carrying out further security measures around Calais. The likely short to medium term implications are that the number of migrants attempting to access Ireland from the other ports will increase.”

He said that FTAI is working closely with the Irish and British authorities and its members to ensure every precaution is taken to minimise the possibility of unwittingly transporting migrants into either country.

Mr McDonnell said FTAI is delighted to have Andy Coram of the UK Border Force addressing its Transport Manager Conference at the Johnstown House Hotel and Spa in Enfield, Co Kildare, on March 9.

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