Pet passports for GB to NI delayed until October
A delay in implementing pet travel checks for movement between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been announced by Daera minister Edwin Poots.
The post-Brexit NI Protocol means owners are required to provide additional documentation, proof of rabies vaccination and proof of tapeworm treatment, however, this will not now come into force until October 1 at the earliest.
Mr Poots said he had taken the decision to “provide much needed clarity”.
Discussions around pet travel between GB and NI are currently ongoing between the UK Government and the European Commission, and “urgent consideration” is being given to the potential for a Common Travel Area involving GB, NI and the Republic of Ireland.
A joint working group has met on a number of occasions to consider where flexibilities can be achieved,” Daera has revealed.
Mr Poots said: “Pet owners have had little time to prepare to meet the new conditions for pet travel which have come as a result of the agreement reached between the UK and EU.
“This delay will also allow time for my department to further scope the potential requirements for the introduction of checks and to educate the public further.
“Whilst the department will not be conducting routine checks during this period it is important to note that my officials reserve the right to carry out checks if they suspect illegal activity or have welfare concerns.”
The minister added: “I have written to the EU on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, highlighting that these requirements for pet travel are not necessary.
“Given that the last case of rabies on these islands was in 1922, these are unnecessary medical interventions.
“This issue is yet another example of why the Northern Ireland Protocol is not fit for purpose.”
Daera is said to be carrying out additional work to develop systems and processes that will minimise the impact and delay for those travelling with pets from GB to NI at points of entry, although further clarity will be required before any new processes can be implemented, the department added.
Daera has also said that details of any progress made will be published on the department’s website.
Meanwhile, the EU’s ambassador to the UK has rejected Mr Poots’ claims that the EU is causing harm to Northern Ireland during the post-Brexit process.
Joao Vale de Almeida said the allegations lack “adherence to reality”.
Responding to claims that the new arrangements are having a “devastating impact,” and causing “demonstrable harm to every individual in Northern Ireland,” the diplomat said “there is no alternative”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Vale de Almeida said: “The EU is politically, financially and emotionally... committed to peace and prosperity for everybody in Northern Ireland. The protocol is not the problem, Brexit created the problem.
“The protocol is a joint endeavour of the UK and the European Union, it is British law, European law, international law, there is no alternative to the protocol.”
Mr Poots has claimed the region is being used as a “plaything” by Europe and argued its ports will be subjected to greater checks on goods from Britain than take place in Rotterdam when grace periods end.