Northern Ireland Protocol: Gardening pensioner takes aim at Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Maros Sefcovic, Micheal Martin, Keir Starmer and the media for ‘selective’ reporting

A 69-year-old gardening enthusiast has slammed world leaders and the media for what he says is selective reporting on the NI Protocol.

Robin Boyd from Donaghcloney contacted the News Letter to air his concerns about the impact of the protocol on business and citizen’s rights - citing his passion for gardening as an example. 

After Brexit, the protocol was an agreement between the EU and UK intended to avoid EU customs checks on the Irish border. It did this by keeping NI in the EU single market and moving the EU checks to NI ports instead. Some NI businesses have benefitted greatly from retaining free access to the EU market. However many of those ‘importing’ from GB immediately struggled with the surge in EU customs paperwork and associated costs - and express concern about their own commercial viability when EU grace periods and UK administrative supports end.

“The NI Protocol damages not only businesses in Northern Ireland, it adversely affects our rights as citizens as well,” Mr Boyd told the News Letter. “The gardening sector is a case in point. My wife, Sandra, and myself, both in our sixties, have lived in a number of locations in Co Antrim and, more recently in Co Armagh. Everywhere we set up home we developed the garden for the benefit of our boys and now our grandchildren. We sourced plants locally and, increasingly, from the rest of the UK. 

Robin Boyd from Donaghcloney says he has had great difficulty buying seeds from GB since the NI Protocol came into affect.

“But sadly, that opportunity is now denied us. Many suppliers in England, Scotland and Wales no longer feel able to dispatch plants to us here in Northern Ireland.” The order form for one major GB supplier, he said, now contains the warning “We are unable to ship seeds or plants to EU countries and Northern Ireland”.

A major gardening magazine which regularly provides free seed samples to subscribers in GB, he said, “but we in Northern Ireland are excluded from receiving this offer”. Another major horticultural firm advertising in the gardening press, also states: “We cannot supply products to Northern Ireland” he adds.

“These are just a few examples of the ways keen gardeners in Northern Ireland are discriminated against as a result of the NI protocol. Garden centre owners tell the same story of restrictions on the supply of gardening products to NI. Yet so many world politicians are lining us to tell us the NI Protocol is working. I would love to say to each one: ‘Not for me it ain’t, mate!’”

Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Maros Sefcovic, Micheal Martin, even Keir Starmer would all feel enraged if their rights as citizens and consumers were curtailed as mine have been. Nor have we been well served by the press and the media in general in NI.” He said television and newspaper outlets “regularly trot out businesses that have benefited from the NI Protocol - but they are only selecting the stories they want us to hear. Has there really been a rigorous investigation into the downside of the Protocol?

“Finally, I would like to say to those in civic unionism who are reluctant or afraid to speak out: ‘Find your voice. Your opinions, your concerns, your fears matter. This is a dialogue about our collective future. Your views are relevant and important so express them before it’s too late.”

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