Allister | Protocol means Northern Ireland would be tied to failed EU vaccine policy from 2022
In a statement released on Tuesday (9 March), North Antrim MLA and TUV Party Leader Jim Allister has said the Health Minister has confirmed that under current Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements, the province will be tied to EU medicines policy from 2022.
Over the last few months the European Union has come in for much criticism from member states over the slow roll out and provision of Covid-19 vaccines across the bloc.
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “In response to a written question, the Health Minister has confirmed to me that as things currently stand from 1st January 2022 the Northern Ireland Protocol will mean that we will be tied to the EU policy on medicines. In simple terms, this means that Northern Ireland is only able to benefit from the UK’s successful vaccine rollout now because of a grace period. But for the grace period, we would be tied to the failed and failing EU policy on vaccination. “While the Republic is still trying to get those over 70 vaccinated and those aged 65 years and older who live in long-term care facilities, those aged 60 or older are being vaccinated in Northern Ireland. While over 40% of people in Northern Ireland have received at least one dose of the vaccine the comparative figure in the Republic is still under 10%.
“Do we really want to follow such a path? The success of the UK vaccination program is a telling reminder of just what the benefits of Brexit are to a liberated United Kingdom. Freedom from bureaucracy and Brussels red tape meant the UK was able to lead the world in protecting its citizens from the virus. “Furthermore, while the EU sought to prevent lifesaving vaccines from coming to Northern Ireland and is currently preventing vaccines from reaching Australia the UK is sending deliveries to Asia allowing Filipinos to benefit from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. “This answer from Minister Swann is a stark warning that the dangers of the Sea Border to Northern Ireland are not just constitutional. Gone are the days when people used to argue that the Protocol would result in us having “the best of both worlds”. We now need to face up to the fact that the Protocol would be, if fully operational as it is set to be next year, quite literally bad for your health.” Mr Allister’s question and Minister Swann’s reply are as follows -
“To ask the Minister of Health to detail the position under the EU Protocol in respect of the importation and approval of medicines from 31 December 2021.” Answer:
“Following the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol on 1st January 2021 Northern Ireland remains aligned with the EU acquis for medicines, whereas Great Britain does not. Medicines for Great Britain and Northern Ireland are now regulated under different regimes but overseen by the Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK’s medicine and medical product regulator.
“The UK Government and the EU Commission have agreed a 12 month period to allow industry time to prepare for the regulatory and supply chain changes that will be required to comply with the NI Protocol by 1st January 2022. “Following the recent temporary triggering of Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster wrote to the European Commissioner Vice President Sefcovic on 2nd February. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster outlined proposals for which agreement with the European Union was urgently requested. It was specifically proposed that the arrangements on medicines agreed on 5th November 2020 should be extended for a further 12 months at least until 1st January 2023. A long-term approach was also sought to ensure no barriers of any kind to the movement of medicines into Northern Ireland. “I trust you will find this response helpful.”