Verona Murphy has become only the second woman president of the Irish Road Haulage Association as Eoin Gavin of Eoin Gavin Transport, Depot 130, finished four years at the wheel of the industry’s guardian body.
“I will still be involved in running the Irha,” says Eoin, who completed two, two-year terms, “but I wanted to give someone else a chance to guide hauliers and lobby the government for fairer treatment for transport companies.I think my greatest achievement was bringing the Irha back to its former glory of being a major lobby group,it is the only representative of the haulage industry in government. In November 2013, our lobbying convinced the government to introduce a fuel rebate for every haulier,which put €4,000 per truck per year back into the haulier’s pockets.
“But there are still major issues to address, chief among them being a reduction in road tax and a change in the way hauliers are taxed in general. We also need to ensure paritywith foreign hauliers, our members are charged £10 everytime they cross the border into Northern Ireland, but UK-registered hauliers can enter the Republic free of charge.”
Verona Murphy is well aware of the needs of hauliers. “The biggest issue is road tax,” she agrees. “The government has not moved forward with the industry; transport law and the way the industry is taxed remains the same as it was in 1956. Tax is based on unladen weight, whereas in the UK, trucks are taxed on gross vehicle weight. In addition, there are 20 different types of trailers and the haulier has to know the weight each one might be expected to pull. Hauliers have to guess the weight, so are likely to get it wrong at least some of the time. Worse still, the law says each haulier has to be taxed based on its heaviest trailer ,even though the company might have a complete mix of vehicles.
“We feel the law is ambiguous and draconian. The IRHA has lobbied the government very hard for a review of roadtax. We want to see a €900 annual tax for artics and €500 tax for other vehicles.”
Other issues Verona wants to tackle during her term as president include the development of an apprentice scheme (see page 5), recruiting young drivers to replace an ageing workforce, and the introduction of an entry charge for UK drivers crossing into Ireland, in the hope the two governments would then cancel all charges for crossing the border.
Legislation should change, too, she says. “For example,”she explains, “after 12 points, a driver will lose their license – and that includes points incurred when driving their car, rather than a truck. A driver can get three points just for being one-half a kilometre over the speed limit. We want to see drivers able to amass 24 points before losing a license, to reduce the time points stay on a license, and to have two licenses – one for car drivers and one for HGV drivers.
Verona has 25 years’ experience in the industry and currently is a partner in Drumur Transport, Co. Wexford. After starting off in farming, she bought a truck in 1993 and worked as a sole trader, driving both within Ireland and to Continental Europe, before starting Drumur Transport in 2010