Tuesday, 8 February 2022
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
846. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his engagements with his counterpart in Northern Ireland since the order to stop checks on certain goods at ports in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6763/22]
The Government remains in close and on-going contact on this issue with the UK Government, with Northern Ireland representatives and with the European Commission and EU partners, but I have not had direct contact with my counterpart in Northern Ireland, since the order to stop checks issued.
The instruction by the Minister of Agriculture in Northern Ireland to cease post-Brexit sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on relevant goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is very unhelpful. It creates uncertainty and unpredictability for people and for businesses in Northern Ireland. As has been noted by European Commission Vice-President, Maros Šefcovic, these checks are a key element of the Protocol. They are not optional – they have a clear legal basis both in UK domestic law as well as in international law.
The Irish Government and the European Commission have been clear in calling on the British Government to uphold the law, to stand by its agreements, and to provide certainty to the business community and other relevant stakeholders, so that Northern Ireland’s peace and prosperity are properly safeguarded.
The European Union has also been resolute in its efforts to find solutions to the outstanding issues regarding the implementation of the Protocol. The Commission’s October 2021 proposals directly address the concerns raised by unionists, including significantly reducing checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I look forward to meaningful engagement by the British Government on these issues over the coming weeks.