Some non-EU food products landing in Cork must be sent to Dublin for customs

Fine Gael TD Colm Burke said the process delays the arrival of fresh produce on shop shelves
Some non-EU food products landing in Cork must be sent to Dublin for customs

The Government has been urged to establish a border inspection point at the Port of Cork so that imported non-EU goods, including fresh vegetables, do not have to be driven to Dublin for customs clearance.

Many of the cleared goods then have to be driven back to distribution hubs in the south and west of the country for sale.

Fine Gael TD Colm Burke told The Irish Examiner that the system is increasing costs and the administrative burden on the import businesses involved.

It also delays the arrival of fresh produce on shop shelves and could be adding to the cost to consumers, he said.

“This is particularly problematic for those importing fresh produce,” Mr Burke said.

He has asked the Government to address some bizarre inconsistencies in the system, including an arrangement whereby bananas from non-EU countries do not require an inspection but vegetables do.

The inspection process only takes a few minutes: an official opens the door of a container, checks the produce for phytosanitary purposes and places a stamp on the goods – but the affected import businesses say that they have to drive to Dublin to get that check.

Mr Burke and his party colleague, Senator Jerry Buttimer, who also raised the issue recently, said a simple administrative solution is available.

While the Port of Cork is a designated border control post for container shipments of wood and wood products, it does not have the physical infrastructure for handling food products.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue confirmed to The Examiner that port bosses are considering developing a border inspection point in later phases of its planned expansion project.

He said his department’s focus in recent years has been on expanding border control post infrastructure at Dublin Port and on building an interim facility at Rosslare Europort to deal with post-Brexit sanitary and phytosanitary goods imported into the EU single market from Britain.

The Port of Cork, which has around 150 staff, handled 10.5 million tonnes of trade in 2020.

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