Anderson criticises minister over Brexit port preps
Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has criticised the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon for failing to clarify what preparations are being put in place to ensure that ports here are prepared for the end of the Brexit transition period in December.
The Foyle MLA was commenting after questioning the Minister on preparations to expand infrastructure at ports of entry at Larne, Belfast and Warrenpoint.
She said: “I questioned the Minister for Infrastructure given her responsibility for ports policy and the legislative framework within which ports operate in the north.
"The Minister stated that her department has no responsibility for checks and inspections, yet just last year her Department ran a grant funding scheme to assist ports in preparing for Brexit.
"This included work to clear space and improve traffic management in anticipation of checks.
“This is a cross-departmental issue, but it is unacceptable that the Minister is unable to outline what action has been taken, other than stating that she has written to the Executive on this issue – despite being a member of the Executive.
“We are less than seven months away from the end of the transition period where we could be dragged off another Brexit cliff edge by the British Government.
"And yet we still have no idea if our ports will be prepared on time. This is a significant issue as it not only has economic repercussions for businesses, but also has implications for groceries in our supermarkets.
“We need assurances that the challenges which will be faced by ports are being addressed and that the protocol on Ireland will be implemented fully and faithfully.
"The Agriculture and Infrastructure ministers need to work together on this issue to ensure that our ports prepared as best as possible for the challenges ahead.”