UK News Discontent growing over Northern Ireland protocol, police warn
End of transition period a ‘difficult adjustment’ – retailers
The Northern Ireland Secretary has argued that the shortages have nothing to do with the special EU divorce deal. © Provided by PA Media Brandon Lewis has argued that there is no Irish Sea border created by the Protocol (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “The big takeaway for the Secretary of State and the UK Government is making sure that Great Britain suppliers who supply into Northern Ireland do make sure that they comply with the paperwork and make sure they are aware that how they trade with Northern Ireland has changed.
Discontent in loyalist communities is “growing” over the Northern Ireland protocol, a senior police officer has said.
More graffiti as well as low-level intelligence and social media monitoring have provided early pointers, but feedback is not causing the force significant concern, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
The force is braced for more street protests over disruption to trade from the rest of the UK once the coronavirus emergency and lockdown restrictions ease.
'Incredible act of hostility': EU introduces controls on vaccine exports to Northern Ireland
The EU has introduced controls to prevent the export of COVID-19 vaccines from the bloc to Northern Ireland. © Associated Press The EU headquarters in Brussels. Pic: AP Brussels triggered Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol that forms part of the Brexit withdrawal deal.The move comes amid a row with vaccine maker AstraZeneca over the supply of vaccine doses to the 27 members of the bloc.The EU decision to activate Article 16 will frustrate any effort to use Northern Ireland as a back door to bring vaccines into the rest of the UK.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said: “We are seeing signals, there are signal incidents that have happened, particularly in recent days.
“We are starting to see graffiti, we are picking up social media sentiment of a growing discontent, particularly within the Protestant/loyalist/unionist community.
“That has not manifested itself in any out workings at this point.”
Northern Ireland is continuing to follow some of the EU’s rules despite Brexit, to prevent the establishment of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Hauliers have faced difficulties transporting stock to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Mr McEwan said the end of the three-month grace period on March 31, for supermarkets transporting goods and requiring parcels sent to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK to include customs declarations, is an important date.
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Unless a political solution is found, that could see some items become unavailable in Northern Ireland, or become more costly.
Mr McEwan told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs: “That will focus people’s minds, I believe, in terms of how Northern Ireland looks and feels for certain members of our community.”
????️We are hearing from Mark McEwan, Assistant Chief Constable,, on the implications of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement for cross-border security and policing co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
— Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (@CommonsNIAC)
The country’s coronavirus lockdown has been extended until March 5.
Mr McEwan added: “If we get to the point where we don’t have such stringent restrictions, where people are not as worried about the health crisis, we may see that manifest in the likes of protests, and we are prepared for that.”
Northern Ireland Protocol ‘a stick for EU to beat UK with’ after Brexit
The mechanism was developed to ease issues around the Irish border, one of the major sticking points in Brexit negotiations.It was negotiated at the 11th hour as a solution to one of the biggest sticking points in talks – the Irish border.
He said intelligence on the unionist community is not causing significant concern but it is something the force is monitoring.
“Were we not in this current environment around the pandemic we would probably see a more visible outworking of that on the streets of Northern Ireland,” he added.
The Northern Ireland protocol is designed to allow the country to follow the EU’s customs rules and has caused delays at the ports because of new declarations and checks.
The DUP has been vociferous in opposition to the protocol’s operation.
The party’s North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said there is “anger and bitterness” in the communities he represents.
He told the committee: “Some sections of the community are starting to sense that they are sitting on a powder keg.”
Claire Hanna, the nationalist SDLP’s anti-Brexit MP for South Belfast, said it is proper that the senior officer be measured in his comments.
She added: “We do not need any trouble at a very difficult time.”
Goods are flowing effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government has previously said.
The end of the transition period has produced deep-seated structural problems which will not be quick to resolve, the Road Haulage Association warned.
Permanent solutions needed to NI Protocol to ensure unfettered access: DUP .
Jeffrey Donaldson made the remarks after crunch talks on the protocol between Northern Ireland’s leaders and the UK and EU. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic held a virtual meeting with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill on Wednesday evening.Mr Donaldson described the trade difficulties as not just short term, but long term.“That’s why we need not just a short-term fix or tinkering around the edges of this or kicking the can down the road,” he told RTE News.