Hauliers are in danger of being killed by migrants if not enough is done to protect them, the Road Haulage Association has said.
Eugene Drennan, a member of the council of the Road Haulage Association of Ireland, said drivers were not getting enough protection or support from a number of governments.
Mr Drennan said: “We don’t feel we’re getting enough protection from the north coast countries — France, Belgium and Holland.”
He added: “The rate of the people getting into these trailers and the angst of these people as it comes to winter to get to the UK, makes it a bigger and tougher situation.
“I would be fearful that we would have an Irishman or any man that is employed by us injured or even killed at the rate it’s happening,” he said.
While acknowledging that these people were “hard done by”, he claimed that there were more reports of migrants having knives.
“Who knows who is among them because of the numbers are so big and they’re so anxious and egging each other on, and we may have a bad situation and I’d be fearful of it.”
Mr Drennan also said he “absolutely” worried that there was organised crime involved in the haulage industry. He called on Simon Coveney, the minister for foreign affairs, to take the matter to Europe.
A tougher stance was necessary when it was proven that people came to Ireland or Europe by illegitimate means, he added. Mr Drennan was clear that Ireland should still take a fair amount of those people who were in need of help but emphasised his frustration at what he saw as a soft-touch approach.
Mr Drennan said France wasn’t doing enough to deal with the problem in its own country. He said it was a “big wealthy country” that could be doing more than it was to solve the problem.
Mr Drennan was referring to camps such as the Calais “Jungle”, where thousands of migrants have camped out looking to make the journey across the Channel to the UK. In October, French authorities cracked down on the camps and sought to move the migrants away from Calais to accommodation elsewhere in the country.
Mr Drennan was speaking after it emerged last week that 16 men were aboard a container on the Cherbourg to Rosslare route.
There is no indication that any force was used by them or any aggression took place in this instance.
Nine of the 16 Kurds found inside a freight container on Wednesday en route to Wexford from France disappeared after leaving their accommodation in Dublin on Friday morning.
The Sunday Times reported that when interviewed by immigration officials, the group of migrants claimed they had been placed in the container five days previously in Belgium by smugglers, but gardaí are sceptical about this.
The men appeared to be clean-shaven and healthy, suggesting they were placed in the container just before it was loaded on to the ferry.
It is understood the driver said that the container was sealed at a factory in France on Tuesday last week.