UK unilaterally extends Northern Ireland protocol grace periods

Uk Unilaterally Extends Northern Ireland Protocol Grace Periods Uk Unilaterally Extends Northern Ireland Protocol Grace Periods
A sign by Unionists against the NI Protocol in Larne. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images
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By Michael McHugh, PA

The UK government has unilaterally extended some grace periods associated with the Northern Ireland Protocol in a bid to avoid a cliff-edge plunge into extra paperwork.

The protocol is a post-Brexit arrangement designed to keep the Border open by ensuring the North continues to follow the EU’s trading rules.

The DUP has vowed to overthrow it over fears it damages the integrity of the UK internal market and Northern Ireland’s place in it.

British prime minister Boris Johnson said temporary and technical extensions to the grace periods are sensible.

He said: “Insofar as there have been teething problems [to the protocol] – and there is no question that there have been – we’re fixing those now with some temporary, technical things that we’re doing to smooth the flow which, I think, are very, very sensible.


“I’m sure that it can all be ironed out and sorted out insofar as the EU objects to that with goodwill and with imagination, and that’s what we intend to bring.”

Implementation issues

The protocol was debated by MLAs at Stormont on Monday.

Sinn Féin’s Declan McAleer, who chairs the Assembly’s agriculture committee, acknowledged there were initial problems with the protocol but the issues were improving.

“I do accept that there was implementation issues at the outset in January, but the message certainly being given to the committee is that things are improving, the Trader Support Service is improving, businesses are getting used to the common health entry documents, but there are still some issues to deal with,” he said.

Mr McAleer said the move by the UK Government to unilaterally amend the terms of the protocol’s implementation was an example of “bad faith”.

“That is bad business, it’s contravention of an international agreement, and I believe that it will have a bad impact on our businesses here and on our international reputation as a region to do business with,” he said.

Meanwhile, graffiti with the word “Traitors” has been sprayed on DUP offices in the port town of Larne shared by East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera), Gordon Lyons.


Graffiti with the word ‘Traitors’ has been sprayed on the shared Larne offices of Sammy Wilson MP and the Stormont Minister of Agriculture, Gordon Lyons. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

Mr Wilson has been a vociferous critic of the protocol while Mr Lyons has suspended construction on permanent border posts required as part of the UK’s withdrawal deal from the EU.

Other graffiti in the unionist town of Larne said “DUP Out” and “RIP GFA”, a reference to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace deal.

A number of anti-protocol signs have also been erected around the town.


The Jewish community is struggling to get kosher meat in time for the Passover festival due to the Northern Ireland Protocol, the DUP has said.

The post-Brexit trade arrangements have also disrupted supplies of specialist cricket soil known as loam from Great Britain.

Northern Ireland has a small Jewish community centred around north Belfast and a central part of the Passover meal is lamb.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is something which is very concerning.

“We have a very small Jewish community here in Northern Ireland. The fact that they cannot access kosher meat is something that would cause me a great deal of concern.”

First Minister Arlene Foster. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

The Jewish Passover festival begins towards the end of this month and it is one of the most important dates in the faith’s calendar.

Mrs Foster told the Stormont Assembly the protocol was affecting wider trade and identity for those who view themselves as unionists.


“There is a need not just to tinker at the edges, there is a need to have a replacement of the protocol.

“There is a need to deal with that urgently because there is damage happening to the economy in Northern Ireland.”

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