Drivers fear having their cars impounded after Brexit, claims Sinn Fein man
People in border communities fear having their cars impounded while driving into Northern Ireland after Brexit, the Irish parliament has heard.
Irish premier Leo Varadkar was pressed by Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty, who said there is mass confusion across the island over what paperwork will be necessary to travel unencumbered.
It is understood a new “green card” will be issued for motorists if there is a no-deal Brexit to prove their insurance policy is valid in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Mr Doherty said: “Many people are incredibly angry, there’s a lack of certainty over how the green card position will operate.
“My own insurance company say they will start to issue them after March 29, but what will happen to motorists on March 30, who will not have a green card and our cars can be impounded if we travel to the north?
“There’s a huge amount of anger in communities that they will now need to hold an international insurance certificate to travel across the Lifford Bridge into Strabane, for example.”
Mr Varadkar said the government was working to resolve the issue, and would allow a grace period for motorists crossing the border without proof of valid insurance in the event of no deal.
“We’re aware of and trying to ensure it’s resolved before March 29, the position is different in the two jurisdictions,” he said.
“There will be differences depending on individual policies, but I’m informed many cover the UK and Northern Ireland, but you will need proof of that in form of a green card, in this state, it’s not an offence not to have one, there will be a grace period for people who are based in Northern Ireland and are coming south.
“We can’t make commitments on behalf of the UK Government, but in this jurisdiction, as long as their insurance policy covers them in this state and if they don’t have a green card, they will not be prosecuted for that.”
Mr Doherty, who represents a border constituency, said Transport Minister Shane Ross has been “asleep at the wheel for two years”, and asked why an insurance arrangement in place for some countries like Serbia and Androrra was not struck for Northern Ireland in the run-up to Brexit.
“This could have been resolved, the commission can allow for the entire UK to be exempt for this, Shane Ross has been questioned on this, and he has come up short on all occasions.
“This is at the very core of the Good Friday Agreement in relation to all-Ireland policies, and now we have a situation where people crossing the border are being asked to hold an international insurance certificate.
“Many people are going to refuse to do that and more are unaware of the consequences of not having it.
“You need to intervene, Taoiseach, and raise this with the highest levels of the commission.
The Taoiseach said many issues have been resolved in relation to travel.
“An alternative solution is one that involves a bilateral agreement between the EU and UK, such arrangements are in place for aviation to allow to continue as normal for nine months and haulage licences, for example.
“It has been raised and has been worked on, and our objective is to conclude an agreement between the UK and EU at least for period of months, but that is yet to be finalised.”