Traffic Blockages: Post-Brexit Ports

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 12th October 2020

T6. Mr McGlone asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, in relation to the measures at Larne for the protection of animals and the like, whether he foresees any blockages at the Scottish side in the flow of traffic. (AQT 516/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The Scots have made it clear that they do not want there to be any blockages. They do not want to have any infrastructure at their harbours. However, there may be potential blockages between Dublin and Holyhead. A lot of food goes from Northern Ireland through that route and ends up in the GB market. I want to see a dedicated Northern Ireland lane at Dublin harbour, and I hope that, when it comes to it, Dublin will do the decent thing, as good neighbours, to help to facilitate that trade to continue as well as the support for their ports that comes from businesses here. I have also spoken to my Welsh counterparts to ensure that lorries that travel from GB to Northern Ireland via Holyhead will have immediate access to the boat rather than having to wait in the queue with everybody else.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:30 pm, 12th October 2020

I thank the Minister for his answer. That issue was raised by representatives of the ports who presented to the Committee last Thursday. Have the Minister or Department done a scoping exercise of the ports to see where there might be problems as we work through the Brexit issues?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I have made it clear, certainly for the Northern Ireland ports, that we are not to have any blockages. That is something that we have fought for. Provided that the European Union does not behave in a difficult way, most people in Northern Ireland will not notice any checks that are happening because it will, perhaps, be one lorry per boat that is checked. That check should last for about an hour, so it should not have a significant impact.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

I ask Members to take their ease for a moment until we change the Chamber arrangements for the next item.