Northern Ireland

Brexit: UK government to enhance border checks at NI ports

Belfast Port

The UK government has confirmed to the EU it will enhance inspection posts at Northern Ireland's ports in order to deliver on the Brexit deal.

Junior Minister Declan Kearney said the executive was informed on Monday.

He said the UK government has "confirmed it will urgently put in place detailed plans with the executive, which does include physical posts at ports of entry".

The BBC understands this relates to letters between the EU and UK.

The letters, understood to have been exchanged in the last two weeks, focused on what are known as Border Control Posts (BCPs).

Under the Brexit deal, reached in October, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU single market rules on agricultural and manufactured goods.

The rest of the UK will stop following these rules at the end of 2020.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said it had always been made clear that there will be "requirements for live animals and agri-food", building on what already happens at ports like Larne and Belfast.

"We want to work with NI businesses and the executive to ensure new admin procedures are streamlined and efficient," he said.

"The protocol puts legal obligations on both sides. We are committed to complying with ours, just as we expect the EU to comply with theirs."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Michel Barnier is the EU's chief negotiator

The EU has strict rules on the entry of animals and food products into the single market.

These products must always enter the single market through designed BCPs.

Therefore the establishment of BCPs at Northern Ireland's ports was always going to be a consequence of the Brexit deal, though the government has been reluctant to acknowledge that.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly pressed the UK to speed up the implementation of the Northern Ireland part of the deal.

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