'Taking a pile of horse dung from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is fine – but you cannot bring it back': Livestock traders speak out over ‘massive, massive’ changes wrought by NI Protocol

Taking horse manure from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is fine, but bringing the same horse manure back is not.
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That is according to Luke Barton, boss of a Fermanagh horse-trading firm, who voiced exasperation at the rigmarole that shipping his animals now entails.

He runs his company, Luke Barton Horses and Ponies, alongside Felim Crane, with both men transporting animals to-and-fro over the Irish Sea.

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But doing so has become far more onerous thanks to the demands of the Protocol, they have said.

Luke Barton has complained of the surge in red tape needed to transport his animalsLuke Barton has complained of the surge in red tape needed to transport his animals
Luke Barton has complained of the surge in red tape needed to transport his animals

They had spoken to the News Letter earlier in the week, and at the time the Northern Ireland Office responded that “there has always been unique arrangements for Northern Ireland on live animals”.

It added that the government has "minimised requirements for NI-registered horses moving between NI and GB".

Meanwhile DAERA issued a statement to the News Letter which seemed to suggest that the current shipping arrangements for horses have been in force since 2007.

Not so, say the two businessmen.

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Mr Crane said: "There is a massive, massive difference pre-and-post Brexit.

"I've probably been contacted by about 80 to 90 horse people who no longer travel to [GB] for pony games, of the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham or London because of these regulations.

"They said it's too much, they can't be bothered."

Meanwhile Mr Barton listed the differences.

"You have to go to a separate location to a vet to sign your horse as fit to get on the boat," he said.

"There was none of that before.

"You have to get a blood test done to come back into NI – which never had to be done before.

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"48 hours before travelling back to NI you have to have a vet see the horse and do paperwork which costs the government £500: not per trip, per horse you bring back – no wonder the country is screwed!

"When you get back, you have to go to a vet on this side also to say: 'yes, you can go on' – which never happened before.

"And also if there is horse muck in the trailer or lorry when you come back into NI, they kick up stink, and by law are supposed to seize the vehicle – and previously there was never a problem.

"But if you are going from NI to England and there's muck in the trailer, there is no problem.

"It could be the same muck coming back in, but they have a problem with it."

Their points were put to DAERA, on Thursday afternoon, but as of this evening no response had been received.