Sunday, 09 May, 2021


EU warns UK over delayed N.Ireland food checks

Anti-protocol grafitti Anti-protocol grafitti
Kristine Garrett | 04 March, 2021, 21:10

On Thursday Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary groups told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson they would be withdrawing support for the 1998 peace agreement (Good Friday Agreement) over concerns regarding the Northern Irish Protocol.

"This is the second time that the United Kingdom government is set to breach global law".

What is the grace period? .

© Thomson Reuters A sign is seen with a message against the Brexit border checks in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol at the harbour in Larne, Northern Ireland February 12, 2021.

Labour's shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Louise Haigh, called on the prime minister to "take personal responsibility for finding lasting solutions that lower tension and make the protocol work".

To allow Northern Irish businesses time to adapt to these new regulations, a grace period was implemented that is due to expire at the end of March.

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced that it is to unilaterally extend a grace period that was given to supermarkets in Great Britain exporting agri-foods to Northern Ireland.

The protocol was agreed by London and Brussels to prevent a hard border emerging between Northern Ireland and European Union member the Republic of Ireland, a flashpoint in the decades-long sectarian conflict.

'These recognise that appropriate time must be provided for businesses to implement new requirements, and support the effective flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.

Tensions have been ratcheting up in loyalist communities since the protocol came into effect at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.

Joe Biden, while campaigning in the presidential election previous year, bluntly warned the United Kingdom that it must honor Northern Ireland's 1998 peace agreement as it withdrew from the European Union or there would be no separate USA trade deal.

Boris Johnson visit to Teesside
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about the protocol issues during a visit to Teesport in Middlesbrough on Thursday

But this means there has to be customs declarations on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, including checks on some products.

It has caused disruption to some goods travelling from the rest of the United Kingdom after suppliers encountered extra red tape.

Ever since Brexit proper on January 1, 2020, Northern Ireland has had problems importing a range of goods from Britain - which unionists, or loyalists, says divides up the United Kingdom and so is unacceptable.

This requires checks on certain items arriving in Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, causing difficulty for businesses in the region which have had trouble bringing in supplies.

The British government extended a grace period for some checks on agricultural and food products imported by retailers to Northern Ireland until October 1 in a move it said was necessary to ensure the free flow of goods to the British region.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1, Mr Coveney said the British Government is breaking the Northern Ireland Protocol and its own commitments.

"They have chose to act unilaterally, which is clearly in breach of the protocol and the commitments that have been made only a few weeks ago", he said.

"A unilateral announcement is deeply unhelpful to building the relationship of trust and partnership that is central to the implementation of the protocol", he said in a statement.

DUP Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: "Whilst supermarkets and those bringing in goods via our ports from Great Britain will be relieved to see extensions to the grace periods, we will be continuing to press the government for a permanent solution".

Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald said: "At last week's meeting of the Joint Committee, Michael Gove and Maros Sefcovic reaffirmed support for the Irish Protocol and the need to work together to deal with issues that have arisen".

"This was completely unnecessary, totally undermines the work of the Joint Committee and puts it on an immediate collision course with the European Union".

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