The quantity of goods passing through Irish ports from the UK remains around half of what it was this time last year, nearly four weeks after the Brexit transition period came to an end.
At a briefing at Dublin Port this afternoon, officials from a range of state departments and agencies said volumes remained below what had been expected.
“It is a concern,” Eddie Burke from the Department of Transport said.
“But there was record levels of stockpiling before Christmas and undoubtedly some of that is still there, it is still in play. Also we’ve seen an increase in direct services (to the continent) – a huge increase in direct services,” he said.
Mr Burke said this explained part of the problem. “But there is though, from what we are hearing, still goods stuck in the UK, in GB that are trying to get across, and haven’t been able to get across yet,” he added.
Tom Talbot, the Head of Revenue’s Customs Operations at Dublin Port, said volumes have been steadily increasing.
He said in the 24 hour period to yesterday morning, the quantity of goods passing through Irish ports from the UK was up 18% compared to the same period last week.
Since January 1, there have been 14,000 inbound freight movements across 282 ferries, he added.
He said around 79% of goods continue to be green routed on arrival, because their paperwork has been properly prepared and submitted in advance, with 15% orange routed for follow up and 6% red routed.
“We know that some businesses are successfully continuing to trade with Great Britain,” he said.
“And this has been very much down to their level of preparation as we’ve said a number of times, and also their ability to address the challenges that this new change brought upon everybody,” Mr Talbot said.
“It is also clear that some businesses – large and small – are having difficulty, in some cases severe difficulty, adapting to the new systems of control,” he added.
He and the other agencies represented at the briefing said there are supports available to help firms who are struggling or need help.
Mr Talbot said he understands that it is frustrating for drivers and hauliers to be held up, and to assist with this Revenue has been actively working with them to give them visibility about what is causing the delay.
Declan Hughes, from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said it was taking time for supply chains to adjust.
“We continue to be assured by retailers that supply is robust, that there is strong supply to shelf level, and that stores are well stocked,” he said.
“Overall the flows into the country are steady, and there are maybe fewer medium term issues in relation to the next couple of weeks,” Mr Hughes said.
But he added that this is not to say there have not been isolated incidents with some products.
Hazel Sheridan, from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said the flow of goods coming from the UK through its inspection facilities remains quite low compared to what was expected.
But she added it is possible that this is the new norm.
She also reiterated the view that the border between Ireland and the UK cannot be treated any different to the EU’s border with any other third country.
Eddie Burke said there had been a significant increase in the number of ferry services linking Ireland and continental Europe in response to a huge increase in demand.
Last year there were seven vessels on those routes and now there are 17, he said.
He added that there are pinch points at peak times, partly due to Covid-19 restrictions on the number of people who can use cabins, but there is capacity.
A lot of traffic has moved away from using the UK land bridge, he said, adding that some of that will come back, although it is not clear yet when that will be.