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British government must come clean on Brexit port shambles - Hazzard

6 July, 2020 - by Chris Hazzard

Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has challenged the British government to live up to its legal obligation to fully implement the Irish Protocol and urgently clarify their approach to enhancing checking facilities at local ports. 

The Brexit spokesperson met with British Government Minister Robin Walker this morning. He reiterated the need for the British Government, and the Department for Agriculture, the Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) to urgently inform the public, as well as the ports and local business community about the process and deadlines they are now working to having missed the previous deadlines to submit plans at the end of June. 

The South Down MP said:

“The British Government and DAERA’s handling of this issue has been shambolic. This is inexcusable as they have known for some time what would be required to enhance local points of entry to the island of Ireland in keeping with the Irish Protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement. 

“A huge amount of work was undertaken by DAERA officials in partnership with local ports in the opening weeks of June. This work was disregarded by the DAERA Minister Edwin Poots and the British government at the last moment before the deadline for submitting plans to European counterparts passed at the end of June. 

“This has left local ports, businesses and the public completely in the dark as to what is happening in order to get fit for purpose facilities in place in time for the end of the transition period. I reminded the British government today that this lack of transparency is completely unacceptable and efforts must be made now to provide clarity to those who have been left in the dark. 

"The Brexit clock is ticking towards a potentially disastrous no-deal crash-out and the British government, as well as the Agriculture Minister and DAERA need to waken up and realise that local businesses and the public at large are at risk of suffering yet another severe economic shock on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“I do however, welcome confirmation from the British government this morning that any and all landscape management schemes that will be required as part of enhancing Warrenpoint Port will be included, and paid for by the British Treasury. 

“Ultimately the local community will want to see plans as soon as possible and a genuine opportunity to engage with Warrenpoint Harbour Authority, DAERA, and Newry, Mourne & Down Council on how best to protect the local environment against any impact of these new facilities.”

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