There was little doubt that the Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) Transport Managers Conference at the Johnstown Estate Hotel would be dominated by the topic of Brexit, and that certainly was the case.
In his opening address at the Enfield venue, the FTAI General Manager, Aidan Flynn advised members and delegates to keep doing what they had been doing for the last two years. To prepare contingency plans, work with clients and develop collaborative relationships – “We need as an industry to accept that there will be change and to plan accordingly.”
The event’s keynote address was delivered by Helen McEntee TD., Minister for EU Affairs and she did offer some comfort in the sense that the Government appears to be addressing the potential issues in the best way possible with the information available at any point in the process. The Minister said:“With a no deal scenario there are elements with which we can’t plan for.”
Other speakers included John McGrane, Director General at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce who proposed the idea that “we shouldn’t waste a good crisis” and learn from these difficulties and avail of any possible opportunities Brexit may create. Other speakers delivered presentations outlining their position on how transport operators can deal with or mitigate the potential damage Brexit may cause. These included Ray Ryan from the Revenue Commissioners Brexit Team, and Pauline Bastidon of FTA.
However the day was not solely about Brexit, and attendees were informed on developments across a wide range of subjects including the Logistics Associate Apprenticeship, the role out of natural gas as an alternative fuel option from Dan Fitzpatrick of Gas Networks Ireland, and reducing heavy vehicle emissions from Laura Behan of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Dr.Sharon McGuinness, CEO of the Health & Safety Authority did mention the Brexit word again in relation to the importance of business ensuring that any materials or equipment used will be compliant with EU regulations in the future. She encouraged companies with any doubts regarding this to contact the Authority.
The afternoon session saw Tim Daly, Head of Training at Bus Éireann give an insight into vehicle compliance at the semi-State company. These impressive standards could be used as a benchmark for all other transport operations. The final presentation from Declan Allen of Technology University (TU) Ireland, presented some findings from a recent TU Dublin study, which investigated the transport industry from the drivers’ perspective in an attempt to better understand why the industry is experiencing difficultly attracting new entrants.
In closing, Aidan Flynn thanked all the exhibitors at the event and the sponsors for their support. In particular, Bridgestone Tyres, Enprova, the Harris Group, Brigade Electronics and media partners Fleet Transport Publications.
Full report and photographs from the event will feature in the April edition of Fleet Transport.