Brexit: NI told to start work on checkpoints at sea ports

UK and EU flag flying in Westminster Image caption Border controls are currently used for checks on agri-food products and animals.

A letter from the UK government to Stormont’s Agriculture Department instructs it to start work on check-points at NI’s sea ports without delay.

The letter, seen by BBC News NI, says it is critical checks are in place, stating such moves are in accordance with the Northern Ireland protocol.

Last week Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said he wanted to pause the work on food and animal controls.

The letter seen by the BBC is from UK Environment Secretary George Eustice.

It was sent to the most senior civil servant in Stormont’s Agriculture Department.

Mr Eustice writes: “It is my expectation that your department will procure such facilities in accordance with obligations of the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

It adds: “Delivery is critical to mitigate risks to food security, including potentially security of supply, cost to the taxpayer and value for money.

“Compliance is necessary for the continued well-being of people, businesses and communities in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Eustice states that the frequency and level of checks are part of the discussions with the EU.

He states that it is government policy to “minimise checks within the spirit of the Northern Ireland Protocol”.

Image copyright PA Media Image caption The letter was sent by Environment Secretary George Eustice

The letter ends: “My view is that it is now the role of your department to procure the facilities for agri-food checks without delay “

Mr Poots had previously said he wanted to pause the work at sea ports until he had received clarity, but now the work will go ahead.

Earlier this week he confirmed to the BBC that his department had received a letter from Mr Eustice and the UK department was paying for the work at Northern Ireland’s ports.

He said that work would now com

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