A shock ban on freight from the UK imposed by France on Sunday evening has huge implications for Irish agri food exports, Independent TD Verona Murphy has said.

“The landbridge to Europe is now defunct,” she told the Irish Farmers Journal. “This is unprecedented.”

“There is a hell of a lot of stockpiling going on,” she said, adding that most of the stockpiling was food.

Haulage companies will now have to find direct routes to France to circumvent the ban on all freight from the UK to France.

Murphy called for the Government to seek “green lanes” for Irish drivers and trucks originating in Ireland to be allowed into France, if they undertook to cocoon within their vehicles while crossing the UK.

“They could undertake not leave their trucks except to use toilet facilities,” she said.

Extra ferries needed

The former head of the Irish Road Haulage Association also called for the Department of Transport to sanction extra ferry sailings direct to France, from Rosslare to Cherbourg, and to fast-track the introduction of the Dunkirk route.

“That route was due to open on 2 January so it could be brought forward,” she said.

The French ban means more disruption and headaches for agri-food exporters, after a fortnight of delays across the UK to mainland Europe.

'More disruption'

“More disruption, more headaches,” one source in the meat industry told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“The land bridge was already experiencing delays over the last fortnight. This compounds it.

“Most of our consignments go as accompanied RoRo (roll on, roll off). I understand that the [French] ban stops this, but allows unaccompanied RoRo and LoLo (load on, load off). We need to see what happens in coming days.”

Wexford TD Murphy said the ban could have a huge impact on the meat trade.

“For factories, tomorrow (Monday) will be the last kill before Christmas, with trucks getting out up to Wednesday to return on Thursday. There’s a huge amount to go out,” she warned. "There's not much point killing cattle if they can't move."