There will be a “phasing-in period” for checks on goods entering the north of Ireland at the end of the Brexit transition period, the Environment Secretary has said.
Earlier this week, Stormont leaders warned the European Commission of the urgency of striking a deal to maintain continuity of food supplies into the north of Ireland from Great Britain.
First minister Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill told commission vice president Maros Sefcovic that it was “unacceptable” that it remained uncertain how the Northern Ireland protocol would operate, less than two months before it comes into operation at the end of the transition period.
On Sunday, George Eustice told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “There will be a phasing-in period at the start of this.
“Work is under way to put in place the checks that are needed, particularly at Belfast.
“There’s a joint committee discussion that is taking place that is trying to resolve all of these quite narrow technical issues often, but certainly they can be achieved.”
Asked if consumers in the north of Ireland would have access to the same range of food on January 1, Mr Eustice said: “Yes, because we’re working through the joint committee process to ensure that supermarkets – and Tesco is the largest – but many other supermarkets also have operations in Northern Ireland, will be able to ensure there is a flow of goods to those stores.”
He added: “The Government will always, obviously, prioritise the flow of goods and in particular the flow of food to Northern Ireland at the end of the transition period. That’s what any responsible Government would do.”
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?