‘NI may face much greater border infrastructure than government led you to believe’
Dr Esmond Birnie was speaking as it was revealed this week that the UK government (specifically DEFRA, the London-based Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) had applied to the EU to create “border control posts” at Northern Irish ports.
The BBC quoted a government spokesman as saying that this involved “a limited expansion of facilities”.
However, when the News Letter pressed DEFRA for details yesterday (such as exactly which ports the posts will be at, and whether they would involve both inbound and outbound checks) it did not respond.
Dr Birnie said his understanding is that the posts will check inbound goods from Great Britain, to make sure they adhere to EU standards.
The reason this will be done is in case any of the goods end up in the Republic of Ireland or other EU markets further afield.
Asked about the pledges made by the government, Dr Birnie – an academic at the University of Ulster – said he wouldn’t go so far as to say that the government “pulled the wool over” people’s eyes.
But he said: “It may be indicative of preparations being made for a much greater scale of infrastructure than some of their earlier comments made you feel would be necessary.
“It’s very hard at this stage to say what we’ll end up with, because it’s contingent on the finre detail of what’s actually agreed between UK and EU27. And they haven’t reached final agreement on that.”
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