Stormont Agriculture Minister threatens legal action over NI Protocol

Rebecca Black, PA
·1-min read

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister has threatened legal action over post-Brexit trading arrangements with Great Britain.

Edwin Poots told Stormont MLAs that the Northern Ireland Protocol “ultimately needs to go”.

He said there are estimations of 15,000 checks on goods per week at the region’s ports once various grace periods for the new rules have ended.

Mr Poots told MLAs that in January he instructed his officials to obtain legal opinion from a top UK constitutional lawyer.

He said an eminent QC has been appointed, and is “currently scrutinising every aspect of that protocol”.

“On completion of that piece of work, it is my intention to lodge judicial proceedings against the protocol,” he said.

Narrow Water Point and Warrenpoint Port (Liam McBurney/PA)
Narrow Water Point and Warrenpoint Port (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I would hope that the Department for Economy, and the Department for Health, because this is having major implications for both medicines and medical devices, will join with me in taking an action against the European Union and the UK Government for the damage that it is inflicting on all of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Mr Poots also insisted that he has not “authorised” any new infrastructure to carry out the checks.

“This has been imposed by Westminster, paid for by Westminster to placate the demands of Dublin and indeed the pro-Protocol parties, that is Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Green Party and as a result every consumer will feel the pain of this protocol,” he said.