DAERA staff to return to work and resume checks at NI ports
The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that staff will return to work at Northern Ireland ports from tomorrow, to resume checks on goods arriving into the province from GB as part of NI Protocol.
A DAERA spokesman said:
"After receiving the full threat assessment from the PSNI, conducting our own internal risk assessment and liaising with staff and unions to put mitigations in place, the Department's Permanent Secretary and Chief Veterinary Officer have confirmed that physical checks on Products of Animal Origin at all Northern Ireland's Points of Entry are planned to recommence on a phased basis, as of tomorrow, Wednesday 10 February 2021."
TUV Bannside councillor Timothy Gaston reacted to the announcement stating:
“Checks at the Irish Sea border should never have been put in place. Once they were implemented by the DUP controlled department it seriously undermined the Union. Violence and threats of violence were always and always will be wrong. Unlike some in Northern Ireland politics, TUV has always been clear on this point. We continue to believe that the checks at the ports, which by law can only be carried out by Minister Lyons’s Department, should cease not in the face of threats but as a point of principle.
“I would appeal to the new Agriculture Minister to take the bold and decisive political action which is required to show that Unionists are serious about defending our place as an integral part of the United Kingdom.
“The danger which the Irish Sea border poses to our constitutional status is clear. It’s time to take the robust action necessary to defend the Union.”
Meanwhile Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has welcomed news that DAERA staff will return to work at the Port of Larne after being withdrawn due to reports of threats.
"I welcome the news that DAERA staff will return to work at the Port of Larne after being withdrawn following reports of threats.
"The safe return of workers is a priority and their safety must be paramount.
"While it is welcome that workers will be back in post, there are still serious questions to be answered by the Minister for Agriculture around how and why the staff were withdrawn in the first place and who made the decision."