Ulster Unionist peer, Lord Empey, has stated that the migrant crisis in Calais is impacting on the Northern Ireland economy and fencing alone is not a long term solution.
Lord Empey said:
“The Northern Ireland economy is suffering from the migrant crisis in France. Many of the lorries parked up on the motorway in Kent are from Northern Ireland taking goods to and from the rest of the EU and beyond. Delays of this magnitude interrupt the free movement of goods and add to the cost that hauliers have to pay. Extra wages and fuel costs are inevitable, and it is only a matter of time before the consumer will be asked to pay for this, thus slowing down our economic recovery.
“The whole sorry business is a demonstration of the failure of British, French and European policy. Fencing alone, while a help, is no long term solution. Representatives from our government and relevant agencies need to go to the camps outside Calais and speak to the migrants so that they understand that they will not be admitted to the UK in this way. They need to know they are causing great anger and resentment as a result of the huge inconvenience and loss that their actions are causing to the British economy. They also need to be advised that it is no longer possible to get access to benefits by simply turning up, and that if they need to claim asylum then they can do so in France.
“The migrants have been exploited by ruthless traffickers and the EU response to these criminals has been pathetic so far. Only strong action at source in the Mediterranean will stop this criminality.
“With tens of thousands of hauliers, holidaymakers and the UK economy being disrupted, the crisis in Calais is fuelling an anti-EU resentment which will manifest itself in the forthcoming referendum on our EU membership.
"Recent events demonstrate again that the issue of the EU`s free movement of people needs to be at the forefront of David Cameron's renegotiation of our relationship with Europe. We cannot allow a situation to develop whereby the EU is exploited by criminals and terrorists."