As Minister for the Department whose responsibilities are most affected by the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, I am fully aware of the difficulties that it is causing, especially the impact of additional new rules and the barriers that they place on the movement of goods, products and live animals from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, to which I am firmly opposed. I feel that those checks on intra-UK moves are unnecessary and totally unacceptable, as they place Northern Ireland businesses and consumers in an unfavourable position. While the current easements on the movement of goods from GB to NI are welcome, they are only interim solutions to the problems associated with the withdrawal agreement and the protocol. The situation will become impossible once the grace periods that are currently in place, primarily for retail goods, come to an end.
The issuing of the controlled stop to the contractors appointed to the design and build programme has triggered a compensation event. The review process for the compensation claims is ongoing, but DAERA has not been formally issued with any verified costs. Until all claims have been submitted by contractors and reviewed in accordance with the contract, the additional cost to the Department cannot be confirmed.