Jack Quann
Jack Quann

22.05 4 Mar 2021


Share this article


Northern Ireland DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has suggested the British government has not changed the Northern Ireland Protocol by extending its grace period.

It comes after London announced plans to unilaterally extend a grace period for food imports from Britain into Northern Ireland.

It means businesses exporting food from Britain to Northern Ireland will not have to provide the necessary paperwork for a further six months.

The European Union has warned that the move breaches the Northern Ireland Protocol, and questioned why it was taken without any discussion with Brussels.

While Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney branded the move as "deeply unhelpful" to building a relationship of trust and partnership.

"I am well aware of the practical challenges Brexit has caused for business and citizens in Northern Ireland and have strongly supported efforts to ensure that issues are addressed within the existing framework of the protocol.

"This includes in respect to modest extensions to grace periods being agreed between the UK and the EU in a spirit of partnership", he said.

But Mr Donaldson told The Hard Shoulder nothing has changed.

"The UK is not changing the Northern Ireland Protocol, they're simply extending the grace period before the protocol is implemented in full.

"Would that the UK were changing the protocol, I would quite welcome that.

"But they're not, so let's not turn this into something it isn't".

He also denied that the UK was changing the terms of the deal.

"The UK government has the right to apply this grace period, the EU agreed to it, the UK sought an extension to that, the Irish Government is supporting that extension.

"To date, the EU has not agreed the extension, so the UK government - in the interest of giving businesses some degree of certainty - has taken action to extend the grace period".

Asked why he believed Mr Coveney was so frustrated at the move, Mr Donaldson suggested: "I suspect Simon wants to curry favour with the European Union, he will have his reasons for that I'm sure.

"Perhaps there's a part of Simon that wants to punish the UK for leaving the EU, and using Northern Ireland as the mechanism for doing that".

And he claimed that Brussels is 'not prepared to compromise'.

"I think Brussels has to trust itself for a start, that would certainly help.

"In this process it seems that, unless Brussels gets belt and braces on everything, they're not prepared to compromise or accommodate the needs of the UK.

"And I think that's very unfortunate indeed."

Mr Donaldson claimed that 20% of all checks that are carried out within the EU on goods moving within or into the single market are now carried out between Britain and Northern Ireland.

"That is an astounding statistic - 20% of all checks across the whole 28 [sic] member states of the EU are now carried out on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland during a grace period.

"And here's the rub: after the grace period ends... the number of checks and certificates that will be required on agri-food products alone travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be close to the total number for the entire European Union."

Mr Donaldson added that the UK government made the move as businesses "are facing a cliff-edge of the end of March, where they face a tsunami" of checks on goods moving across the Irish Sea.

Main image: DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson is seen at an event in the Law Society of Northern Ireland in November 2019. Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA Archive/PA Images

Share this article


Read more about

Brandon Lewis British Government Brussels DUP MP Dublin Jeffrey Donaldson London Northern Ireland Protocol

Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

The Tom Dunne Show

The Tom Dunne Show

22:00-00:00

Share

Up next

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-06:00

Share

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

06:00-06:30

Share

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

06:30-07:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

07:00-09:00

Share

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

09:00-12:00

Share

LUNCHTIME LIVE

LUNCHTIME LIVE

12:00-14:00

Share

MONCRIEFF

MONCRIEFF

14:00-16:00

Share

THE HARD SHOULDER

THE HARD SHOULDER

16:00-19:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

19:00-22:00

Share

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

22:00-00:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on