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Extension to grace periods must be on solid basis, says Farry 

Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said while his party supports the extension of the current grace periods for Irish Sea border checks, concerns remain over the UK Government acting unilaterally to extend them rather than working to achieve agreement with the EU.

The North Down MP said there could be long-term detrimental consequences for Northern Ireland from the move.

“Alliance successfully argued for the introduction of the grace periods in December, and we want to see the current adjustments extended,” he said.

“Such extensions must be used to achieve sustainable, long-term solutions and mitigations in relation to the operation of the Protocol. For Alliance, the priority is the conclusion of a bespoke UK-EU Veterinary Agreement. 

“But while this announcement from the UK Government may be superficially attractive in the short-term, it may bring long-term consequences. The legal basis under the Withdrawal Agreement for such unilateral steps is at best unclear. One set of unilateral moves may invite other such steps. 

“Furthermore, businesses operating in relation to Northern Ireland need stability and legal certainty. Northern Ireland does not need a reputation as a region where the rule of law does not apply. That is not a tenable basis to attract inward investment.  

“With further meetings of the Joint Committee scheduled for later this month, these actions from the UK Government short-cut a process that should have produced mutual agreement on the way forward. Both the objective of achieving maximum flexibilities around the Protocol and the long-term normalisation of UK-EU relations depends on mutual trust and confidence.”