UK News Stormont ministers clash over Irish Sea port checks
Arlene Foster hopes Stormont Executive will ‘revisit’ school opening dates
The First Minister said she wants to give people optimism on Monday when Northern Ireland’s pathway out of lockdown is revealed.Northern Ireland’s First Minister said she wants to give the public optimism when the path out of lockdown in the region is revealed next Monday but cautioned that this must be the last.
Stormont ministers clashed over Irish Sea port checks during robust exchanges on Tuesday.
The checks are taking place at existing repurposed buildings and other temporary facilities.
A DUP Stormont powersharing minister was challenged by devolved executive colleagues over his controversial decision to halt work on permanent post-Brexit inspection posts.
Sinn Fein Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “The DUP must shoulder its responsibility for the active role they played with the Tories in creating these circumstances we are now living with, despite the majority of people and MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) opposing their approach.
Arlene Foster brands joint committee meeting on NI Protocol ‘disappointing’
Northern Ireland’s First Minister has accused European officials of being ‘tone deaf’.Northern Ireland’s First Minister has described a meeting of the UK and EU Joint Committee as “hugely disappointing”.
“It is time the DUP was honest with the public and accepted that the executive is legally obliged to comply with the commitments set out in the Withdrawal Agreement and the protocol, both of which now form part of the law.”
Stormont Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons did not table a formal paper on his plans to the ministerial executive on Tuesday, and was asked by other ministers to confirm or provide details on what actions he has actually taken.
Northern Ireland is continuing to follow the EU’s trade rules to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
That has disrupted some trade from Great Britain, since Brussels requires extra checks on the Irish Sea to ensure compliance with Europe’s single market standards.
Stormont ministers stick with phased plan for school return
Under the Executive’s plan, P1 to P3 primary school children will return to school on March 8. On March 22, secondary school children in key exam years – years 12-14 – will return.On that same date, the P1-P3 cohort is due to revert to home learning for one week ahead of the Easter holidays – to mitigate the impact on infection rates of the secondary school cohort’s return.Mrs Foster said officials from the departments of health and education were going to examine that aspect of the plan.
Permanent checking facilities are due to be built at Belfast, Larne, Warrenpoint and Foyle ports.
Physical construction has not begun at any of the sites, with work still in the design and preparatory phases.
The DUP and other unionist parties in Northern Ireland are pushing for the protocol to be ditched, claiming it has driven an economic wedge between the region and Great Britain which undermines the union.
The move by DUP Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons to abandon the building projects at the ports was debated at Stormont on Tuesday.
The minister said: “A lot of people want to put their heads in the sand.
“We do face fundamental questions, we have fundamental concerns and challenges.”
Ministers from Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance Party, the three pro-remain executive parties, contend that he does not have the authority to act unilaterally on issues considered significant or controversial.
Rival Stormont Assembly members have accused Mr Lyons of stunt politics.
He listed a series of problems with the protocol, including:
– Red tape and additional bureaucracy;
– Reduction in consumer choice;
– Problems facing hauliers transporting goods from Great Britain;
– Creation of barriers within the UK’s internal market;
– Businesses in Great Britain feeling they are not able to trade because of extra costs;
– Restrictions on livestock movements;
– Problems bringing guide dogs across the Irish Sea;
– Challenges transporting machinery.
Mr Lyons added: “It is so, so important that we get an alternative to the protocol.
“No amount of tinkering with it is going to make it work – it needs to go.”
These brilliant British islands aren’t in Britain .
From remote outposts in the mid-Atlantic and rugged volcanic islets to Caribbean archipelagos and isolated Arctic territories, the remnants of Britain’s influence can still be seen across the globe. Here we explore some of the British Overseas Territories you may not know exist.