Brexit: Farmers seek assurances on 'unfettered access' through Dublin

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

  • Published
CattleImage source, Reuters

Farmers want assurances that meat exports from NI shipped through Dublin Port to customers in Britain will qualify for "unfettered access".

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) says up to 50% of red meat destined for the GB market goes this way.

The UK government has made a commitment that NI goods will face no barriers entering their main market in GB.

However, the UFU said it does not extend to produce shipped via the Republic of Ireland.

'Outstanding questions'

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said the government must extend the guarantee to cover this route to market.

"Produce is shipped through Dublin as it's the only route that is feasible for meeting just-in-time requirements," he said.

"There are important outstanding questions as to how unfettered access to the UK internal market can be delivered via Dublin."

The UFU made the call in its response to a UK government consultation on how to prevent unfair competition in the UK internal market.

The document sets out government proposals to ensure UK companies can continue to trade unhindered in all parts of the UK by adopting common frameworks on the production and sales of goods and services.

Mr Chestnutt said divergence between EU and the UK on things like production standards or labelling could add cost and lead to commercial discrimination in the market.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Ulster Farmers' Union says up to 50% of red meat destined for the GB goes through Dublin

He also called for more information on how a new UK financial support system for business would work and whether there would be any implications for Northern Ireland which would continue to be bound by EU state aid rules.

The government has promised legislation to ensure a level playing field for UK businesses in the domestic market.

But the UFU president said in the absence of a UK/EU trade deal, Northern Ireland companies importing material from Britain could face great uncertainty.