Press Association, Vivienne Clarke
A number of Dublin roads have been blocked by protesting hauliers and truckers this morning, as they threaten to bring “complete lockdown” to the capital in protest over spiralling fuel costs.
Commuters are feeling the effects of major disruption around the docklands area of Dublin, with the East Link toll bridge and East Wall Road blocked with trucks and trailers.
The usually busy roundabout outside the 3Arena is also blockaded with trucks, causing the closure of North Wall Quay. The entrance to Dublin Port and the Port Tunnel is also heavily congested.
Some truck drivers in the protest organised by the group People Of Ireland Against Fuel Prices have remained in their parked cabs, while others stood in groups on the road.
Gardaí on the scene are attempting to manage traffic while also trying to get the protesters to move on.
Many of the vehicles carry banners with the slogan #Irishfuelprotest, with others call for the resignation of Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
Commuters were earlier warned to expect widespread disruption around the capital as truckers planned to block the main arterial routes into the city.
The group People of Ireland Against Fuel Prices said convoys of vehicles would travel along a number of motorways into the city centre from 3am, and warned truckers could remain in place for at least a week until there is a resolution to the issue.
Gardaí advised commuters to plan accordingly.
The group previously held two protests in the capital before Christmas which led to significant traffic problems.
The organisation said it is made up of a group of “truck companies struggling to stay afloat”, but it is not affiliated with the official Irish Road Haulage Association.
Members were expected to gather at a number of motorways at 3am before driving to Dublin. A pedestrian protest is also planned for 9am on O’Connell Street.
Business owners raised concerns over the disruption caused by the protest on Monday morning, with the chief executive of the Dublin Town business group calling for dialogue.
Richard Guiney told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that communication was how to respond to the issue. Protests and disruption were not what the city needed at a time when businesses were still “coming out of the pandemic,” he said.
Businesses and their staff were additionally experiencing inflation. “This is something we need to work on together rather than one sector impacting on another, especially when that sector is still so fragile.”
Previous protests last November and December had been “managed well” by the gardaí and Dublin City Council, and had not had as negative an impact as feared, added Mr Guiney.
However, footfall in city centre businesses was at 80 to 85 per cent and many businesses were “really struggling”, he said. Footfall needed to return to above 90 per cent. “We need office workers back. We’re clinging on, we need some support.”
He added: “The pandemic has not been kind to the city.”
The hauliers' group has said the protest will continue until their demands are met and has urged participants to “come prepared for at least one week, maybe even two”.
In a Facebook post, the group said: “Dublin will be in complete lockdown and for as long as it takes untill [sic] our demands are agreed upon by Government!”
“We are a group of truck companies struggling to stay afloat and have come together, along with farmers, bus companies, taxis and the general public to protest as the price of being in business and the cost of living is not affordable.
“We are all in crisis.
“How are people to get to school or work? How are the elderly and disadvantaged supposed to pay for these increases?
“Not just diesel, petrol but electricity and gas. It’s atrocious the situations families are going to find themselves in, choosing between food, heat and transport,” the post said.
“Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did not work hard all their lives and pay tax for us to live in poverty.”
The group stated it wants a peaceful protest and apologised in advance for inconvenience caused.
They have called for price caps on petrol, diesel and home heating fuel and the scrapping of the carbon tax.
Gardaí have said they are aware of the protest and will have an “appropriate and proportionate” plan in place to monitor it.