FTA Ireland (FTAI), the business group which represents the country’s logistics business, has welcomed news that the formation of a new government is imminent, after Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party confirmed they had agreed to set up an alliance to govern. But, as Aidan Flynn, general manager at FTAI confirms, the challenge for the new government is only just beginning and if Irish business is to be protected moving forwards, there are many urgent questions to answered by the new administration:
“The news that Ireland could finally have a strong, functioning government is great news for the country and its economy,” he says, “but it is now time for the hard work to start. Having spent 130 days to form a new government, it would be ironic if the Dail now takes its annual recess and holidays with the economy facing untold challenges that need the support and leadership of our elected officials.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges that none of us could have predicted at the start of the year and, while our sector has reacted with resilience to keep the nation trading, it is now time to focus on recovery and the next big issue facing our sector, Brexit. Confirmation from the UK Government that it will not be seeking an extension to the transition period at least creates a timeline for industry’s preparations, but time is not on the side of business if it is to adapt to new processes and procedures. The additional negotiation rounds scheduled between the UK and EU between now and August, need to be intensive, constructive and must focus on delivering a result which will keep our economy buoyant.”
As Mr Flynn continues, whatever agreement is reached, speed is of the essence to help the logistics sector make sense of whatever type of deal is negotiated: “If a substantial, comprehensive free trade agreement cannot be negotiated, it is vital that logistics businesses have as much notice as possible so they can adapt to and adopt new processes that keeps trade flowing with minimal delays. The government owes it to industry to find a way to make the new arrangements work for all parties, and that means allowing as much time as possible for preparations to be made for the new “normal”, whatever that may mean.
“COVID-19 has proved that logistics is a flexible, adaptable and reliable industry that delivers for the people of Ireland, and our members are committed to making the new trading arrangements with the UK work. But this will need prioritisation at the highest levels of government, and perhaps should involve a dedicated Minister for Logistics, who can champion the key issues for the industry at the highest levels of government. Such a move would send a positive message to the thousands working right across our sector that government recognises the value of our key workers in keeping our nation trading efficiently.”
FTA Ireland is a not-for-profit membership trade association for the Irish freight, passenger and logistics industries. We are wholly owned and governed by our members and act solely in advancing their best interests. FTA Ireland covers all aspects of private and public freight transport, passenger transport and logistics supply chain, including road, rail, sea and air. FTAI represents some of the largest freight and passenger operators in Ireland, with more than 25,000 employees and 10,000 vehicles operating between them.