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Blair seriously concerned after post-Brexit check delay warning

Alliance Agriculture spokesperson John Blair MLA has said he is seriously concerned after a warning it is ‘almost impossible’ to have post-Brexit checks in place at ports and airports here by January.

Mr Blair was speaking after Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Permanent Secretary Denis McMahon appeared at the Assembly’s DAERA Committee, where he said it would be a ‘monumental challenge’ to have the checks ready by the time the Brexit transition period runs out at the end of the year. He added interventions from DAERA Minister Edwin Poots had further slowed the process.

“In an ever changing landscape, I recognise Brexit preparations have not been an easy process for the Department, but this matter has left me seriously concern,” said South Antrim MLA Mr Blair.

“The Internal Market Bill introduced another series of grave unknowns and preparations for the Bill have increased officials’ work load, further delaying EU exit provisions. Coupled with Ministerial stalling, it has changed the grade of preparation from amber/red to red absolute. Preparations in a way that protects our agri-food sector by 1 Jan are now undeliverable.

“Considering Ministerial interventions have somewhat caused these delays, it is in effect another justified reason for an extension to the deadline, given the state of preparedness and inevitable risk to vital sectors.”