DUP slammed for refusing to take part in cross border committee meeting on Brexit - Major blow for DUP as only 18% of businesses want NI Protocol scrapped - Retail distributor blames 12% drop in turnover on uncertainty over NI Protocol

The DUP has been slammed by political parties on both sides of the border for refusing to take part in a meeting of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement during which Brexit was discussed.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 12:59 am

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LIVE UPDATES: Brexit NI - Major blow for DUP as only 18 per cent of NI businesses surveyed by Manufacturing NI want NI Protocol scrapped

Last updated: Wednesday, 10 February, 2021, 14:55

  • 18 per cent of NI businesses surveyed by Manufacturing NI want NI Protocol scrapped
  • Turnover is down 12% at one of the main freight carriers across the Irish Sea
  • ‘There does not seem to be enough rewards for us really here’ says AM Nexday chief
  • Brexit could cost London’s economy £9.5 billion a year, new research suggests
DUP leader, Arlene Foster, who as recent as last week said she wanted the Northern Ireland Protocol completely scrapped.

Regret has been expressed after DUP representatives declined to take part in a Stormont committee meeting around the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Executive Committee is hearing from Northern Ireland MPs as well as TDs and senators from the Republic as part of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Committee chairman Colin McGrath said he had been informed that members of the DUP would not be attending that segment of the meeting.

“I do have to say that I find that disappointing,” he said.

“There are many businesses and many groups who will be impacted by the rollout of the protocol in its early days and I feel that if you’re not prepared to be part of the solution then you stand accused of being part of the problem.”

He added: “I think that is both equally unhelpful and is quite sad.”

Sinn Fein Fermanagh MP Michelle Gildernew said she felt it was “unfortunate” that not all parties were represented.

“We have unprecedented challenges on the island of Ireland as a result of Brexit,” she said.

SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna added: “I regret that there are those in the DUP who are not (here), it’s 2021, if people can’t participate in a video conference about the pressing political, practical and economic issues of our time.”

Senator Niall Blaney said: “Like others, I am disappointed that the DUP have decided not to partake.”

Fianna Fail MEP publishes letter detailing how European Commission can help to make NI Protocol run more efficiently

Major blow for DUP as only 18 per cent of NI businesses surveyed by Manufacturing NI want NI Protocol scrapped

The DUP’s plan to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol has been dealt a significant blow after a report published by Manufacturing NI revealed only 18 per cent of the businesses it surveyed wanted to see the protocol completely scrapped.

In a report titled ‘Northern Ireland’s Manufacturers and the First Month of the NI Protocol’, Manufacturing NI revealed how businesses it survey felt the NI Protocol was or was not performing for them.

The report was based on 355 responses from manufacturing businesses in Northern Ireland.

Fifty-two per cent of businesses that responded agreed the NI “Protocol is here so must work by agreeing mitigations, derogations and compensation".

More than 46 per cent of businesses said they agreed that the Northern Ireland Executive, Westminster and Brussels should “get GB businesses ready to supply and buy from Northern Ireland”.

Last week, the DUP set out a five step plan for how it intends to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol.

In the last 48 hours the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, and the Irish government’s Minister for European Union Affairs, Thomas Byrne, both stated a desire to make the protocol work and Minister Byrne said it was here to stay.

Retail distributor blames 12% drop in turnover on uncertainty over NI Protocol

Turnover is down 12% at one of the main retail distributors across the Irish Sea - writes Michael McHugh, PA.

AM Nexday blamed uncertainty amongst businesses based in Great Britain following the introduction of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Senior manager Sarah Hards said her organisation recruited extra staff and incurred additional costs to cope with post-Brexit checks and paperwork.

She added: “There does not seem to be enough rewards for us really here.”

Post-Brexit checks at all Northern Ireland’s ports will resume from Wednesday.

Inspections of animal-based food produce arriving at Belfast and Larne ports were suspended last Monday amid concerns over the safety of staff.

AM Nexday describes itself as Ireland’s number one retail distributor.

Ms Hards said turnover was down 12% from January 2020 to January this year.

Huge numbers of lorries carry food across the Irish Sea every day.

The business development manager at the company added: “Many of our customers are key and have stayed open during every lockdown.

“Suppliers in Great Britain are fearful.”

She told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs that some customers were not completely prepared.

“A lot of people just did not think that this was going to go through, something would pull them back at the last minute,” she said.

“In our business we reached out to all of our customers and said that this is what we need you to do.”

Threatening graffiti expressing opposition to a so-called Irish Sea border had appeared in the Larne area in Co Antrim.

Former Stormont agriculture minister Edwin Poots ordered the suspension of checks shortly before stepping down from the role to receive medical treatment.

His successor Gordon Lyons maintained the position.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has since said there was no evidence of “credible threats”.

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said checks will resume on a phased basis from Wednesday.

Sinn Fein and the DUP are at loggerheads over whether the withdrawal of staff was justified at all.

Unionists and loyalists are opposed to post-Brexit arrangements, which they believe threaten the integrity of Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

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