North/South Ministerial Council: Plenary and Institutional

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 18th January 2021.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin 12:45 pm, 18th January 2021

The two meetings took place before there was a Brexit deal, before the end of the transition period, so those issues were not discussed. However, you have summarised correctly the challenges that we now have. The NSMC's commitment was to make sure that disruption would be minimised, but that is clearly not happening. There have been trading adjustment shocks and delays in journeys back and forth. Our ports are under pressure. I hope that we can find solutions to many of these things. I welcome the fact that the Specialised Committee will be able to examine some of the issues that will be identified as needing resolution. I will certainly play my part in all of that.

I am glad to say that some of the commentary around food shortages, for example, is not correct. We have a very good flow of trade in food. It is restored almost to how it was prior to the end of the transition period. However, obviously, there are other issues. For example, the tariffs on steel being imported are having implications for manufacturing businesses. I hope that there will be a positive resolution to that, maybe even today. We still have to work our way through a number of other areas and work with colleagues to get resolution on them.