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Taoiseach ‘concerned’ about Christmas delivery delays due to Brexit

Erik G

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has admitted he is concerned about the knock on effects Brexit might have on deliveries in to Ireland in the run up to Christmas.

Speaking ahead of his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York this afternoon, he said he believes the “fall out has yet to come” from Brexit. 

When asked if he is concerned, about Christmas deliveries and fuel shortages, he said:

“I am indeed. I’ve been concerned for a long time in relation to Brexit. I think Covid has masked a lot of the issues around Brexit. Now, we’ve managed to weathered some of the storm because of preparation, we prepared well, and also because we’re opening up things to Europe and so on.

“But I think from SMEs, for example, in Ireland that they’re finding the lead in times for ordering goods and getting goods into countries much longer than it would have been before Brexit. Also SMEs within Britain are finding it difficult in terms of accessing the European market,” he said.

Warning for Irish shoppers 

The Journal reported this month that Irish shoppers are being advised to start planning their Christmas purchases as soon as they can.

Some of the biggest toy and home furnishing companies operating in Ireland have already said that they are experiencing major delays ahead of the busy season.

Shoppers are advised to buy early this year, a spokesperson for Smyths Toys told The Journal this week. 

Retailers have today warned the UK government that it has just 10 days to save Christmas from “significant disruption” due to the HGV driver shortage.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that disruption to festive preparations will be “inevitable” if progress is not made to solve the shortfall of around 90,000 lorry drivers.

The stark warning came as BP, Esso and Tesco petrol forecourts were impacted by challenges getting petrol deliveries.

Asked about the matter after the Taosieach did a tour of NBC studios and a meeting with executives, he said:

“I think there hasn’t been the same level of preparation in UK, for Brexit, and the results of that are showing.”

“Brexit is a worry, in terms of the dynamic described,” he said.

The Taoiseach said “everybody, including the UK, need to reflect on how it is working”. 

“We owe it to those in the frontline of industry and business, that systems run smoothly,” he said.

Now is a time for “common sense and pragmatism,” said Martin.

‘Strong support’ from US

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who is in Washington DC,  told The Journal today that the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has shown “very strong support” for Ireland and its position with Brexit and Northern Ireland.

“Absolutely, very strong confirmation from Speaker Pelosi on her support for the Irish position and her willingness to communicate this to the British government. Not surprisingly she’s following Northern Ireland very closely and it was a good opportunity to outline to her what the solutions the EU is working on might look like,” said Coveney.

Coveney spoke to Pelosi about US/Irish relations, issues affecting Northern Ireland, the ongoing implementation of the Brexit agreement as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Also on Capitol Hill, Coveney met with a large number of cross-party Senators and members of Congress including the Friends of Ireland caucus.

Brexit will featured prominently during the minister’s trip in New York this week also, when the minister briefed the European American Chamber of Commerce.

President Joe Biden warned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week that the Northern Ireland peace process should be not be jeopardised by issues in dealing with the Northern Ireland protocol.

Speaking in the Oval Office on Tuesday, the US president stressed the importance of maintaining the Good Friday Agreement.

“I feel very strongly,” he said, when asked about the Northern Ireland protocol.

“I would not like to see – nor would many of my Republican colleagues – a change in the Irish accord,” said Biden. 

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice claimed this week that Biden doesn’t understand the “very complicated” situation in Northern Ireland.

When asked about this Martin told reporters in New York that such an assertion is “wrong”.

TheJournal.ie’s Political Correspondent Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s visit to New York this week.

Stay up-to-date by following @christinafinn8@TJ_Politics@thejournal_ie and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page

With reporting from Ian Curran and Press Association


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