Concerns have been expressed about the state of readiness among Ireland's exporters for the next batch of post-Brexit regulations which are due to come into effect in October.

At the moment, products coming from the UK, which is now a non-EU country, can be subject to customs and other checks when they arrive into Ireland.

From 1 October, the process will also apply for goods going in the other direction.

The new checks will relate to any produce which is of animal origin and will mean that exports will need to have export health certificates before entering the UK.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue has encouraged producers and exporters to do all they can to get ready for the new regime.

However, some in the sector are worried that the new UK certification system and inspections will lead to delays and extra costs.

Kieran Tracey of Nolan Transport, now one of Europe’s biggest transport companies, with food and other agricultural products accounting for a large percentage of its transit business, said there needs to be more "conjoined thinking" between the different Irish State agencies involved in checking exports.

The opening weeks of the post-Brexit era saw delays for haulage companies as they dealt with the new round of paperwork and checks, he said, and more headaches could be looming.

"We’re going to see big delays in October. The checks that are currently being done by the Irish State on goods coming into the country [from outside the EU] will be done by the UK on goods going into the UK, so if we get treated how we’re treating them at the minute I can see massive delays.

"Any pressure points currently in place near ports here or in the UK are going to be exacerbated when the new UK system comes into force," he warned.

"You could be looking at an extra 24 hours transit time from A to B, from Ireland to the UK, so your 48-hour load is looking at maybe double that."

Michael Flanagan of Walsh Mushrooms with Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConologue
Michael Flanagan of Walsh Mushrooms with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConologue

Michael Flanagan of Walsh Mushrooms, who have a number of production bases including in Gorey in Wexford, Golden in Tipperary and Mullingar in Westmeath, said that Brexit has already led to a lot of challenges, including more paperwork and expense.

"There are external factors as well such as the exchange rate, which has made it a tough trading environment," he said.

Delays have already been encountered this year and more could follow in October, "particularly the extra costs involved and having the paperwork right and the complexity of it to make sure that you don't get any hiccups, and then your customs clearance charges".

The latter works out at €60 per load which, and at 50 loads a week amounts to €3,000 per week in extra costs for the company.

Walsh Mushrooms export about 500 tonnes of produce to the UK every week. This is 90% of its output.

According to the Government, 140 people will be recruited and redeployed to carry out any new checks necessary in Rosslare Port and as support staff.

The post-Brexit regime has already led to a large increase in the amount of checks of non-EU goods coming into this country, from 3,500 last year to over 30,000 already in 2021.

Minister McConalogue said "additional challenges" have been mounted to industry and agriculture, with more to follow".

"Thankfully we’ve had extra time to prepare and for businesses to prepare because Britain delayed the introduction of the checks for European goods entering Britain, that did come into force for goods coming into Ireland on 1 January from Britain," said Mr McConologue.

"But it’s really important now that businesses do now prepare and my department and officials are engaging with them very intensively in advance of that.

"It's to ensure that trade flows, there isn’t any disruption and that we continue to keep access to that British market which is so important right across our economy.

"Particularly for our agri-food sector where 40% of our total exports go to Britain."