Border Control Checks: Update

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 3rd November 2020.

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Photo of Martina Anderson Martina Anderson Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 3rd November 2020

T1. Ms Anderson asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, following his recent answer to her question about checks at border control posts, in which he confirmed that such checks would be performed by EU Commission experts, for an update on that, given that we are only 58 days from the end of the transition period. (AQT 601/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am glad to say that the people who will check at the points of entry are vets and environmental health officers from Northern Ireland who are provided by our Department and by local authorities.

Photo of Martina Anderson Martina Anderson Sinn Féin

Minister, I remind you that your Department will be making arrangements to comply with official control regulations in order to ensure that controls can be performed by Commission experts in accordance with article 116 of the Irish protocol. Minister, do you not agree or even understand that some people feel that you are behaving more like a Brexiteer than a Minister?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I assure the Member that I am a Brexiteer and that I am also a Minister. There are others who will oppose Brexit and will be Ministers, and they are perfectly entitled to do that. The reality for the Member is that we are leaving the European Union. That is done and dusted. On 31 December 2021, the implementation period will be over.

I oppose the points of entry. I always have. The protocol brings huge problems to us. Nonetheless, it is an imposition that has been placed upon us. We will provide the appropriate personnel and will seek to reduce any invasion whatsoever by the number of inspections that need to take place and minimise those as much as possible in order to retain normal business relations with key customers and suppliers. I see absolutely no point in creating barriers between us and our key markets and, indeed, our key suppliers. All that that will do is cause job losses in Northern Ireland and cost consumers more money. If the Member wishes to have that, stand up and say it. I do not.