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Northern Ireland trucker left stuck in Europe as borders close across continent

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Ciara Tinnelly who has been stuck in Europe

Ciara Tinnelly who has been stuck in Europe

Ciara's truck

Ciara's truck

Ciara Tinnelly who has been stuck in Europe

A female trucker from Northern Ireland has described her experience of being stuck at a border in mainland Europe on Mother's Day as the continent cracks down on movement.

As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, EU borders are being closed down making it difficult for truckers to move to complete deliveries and return home.

It is an easier situation for those truckers hauling fridge units full of food as it is regarded as essential cargo - but for others transporting machinery on low loaders it is a different situation.

Driver Ciara Tinnelly spent Mother's Day stuck at the border between Germany and Austria and hopes to return home later this week - if the ferries are running, that is.

Ciara (34) from Rostrevor said: "I spent Sunday at the German/Austrian border and was heading for Salzburg to off load a Combilift fork truck.

"It's a wide load so I had to get escorted here from the Netherlands through Germany.

"I loaded in Ireland last Wednesday and then travelled by ferry from Dublin to Holyhead.

"From there I then drove across Wales and England to Harwich and took the ferry across the North Sea to Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands."

Border facilities in terms of showers, toilets and food outlets are limited as most have closed down, and Ciara is grateful that she stocked up on food before leaving home.

Although she is practically self isolating in her truck, Ciara said she cannot quite believe how other truckers are not adhering to the safe social distance common sense rules.

Ciara, who drives for James Quinn Transport in Co Louth, managed to deliver her load yesterday afternoon but is unsure when she can get home.

She said: "I'm just keeping myself to myself and making sure not to touch things with my bare hands. I clean my hands regularly and am staying out of direct contact with others. At the border crossings and truck stops the restaurants, hotels and showers are all closed here. There is only one of the services letting the drivers use the toilet.

"There is a van that comes around the trucks with bread and eggs for the drivers and the operators say it will continue to come around every night but I hope to make my way home soon.

"From my cab it is crazy to see other drivers coming together to cook their meals and chat. That's not helping anyone," she said.

Ciara hopes to be travelling home today - that is if the ferries are still running.

She added: "Some ferries won't let the drivers on board and are only permitting the shipping trailers to get on board the ships. Hopefully l will be heading for a boat home via the Netherlands on Tuesday evening but we will have to wait and see.

"This could well be my last trip across the water to mainland Europe for a few weeks if this keeps up. However, it is very important for us all to heed the government's advice and stay at home if we are to beat this virus."

Belfast Telegraph