Jelly and gravy supplies threatened when grace period ends, Stormont warns

Processed goods like jelly or gravy could be unavailable in Northern Ireland at the end of the protocol grace period, Stormont’s agriculture minister said.

Edwin Poots acknowledged the country had plenty of homegrown beef and potatoes but warned Northern Ireland Assembly members trimmings like Bisto or trifle could be missing from traditional Sunday dinners.

A soft-touch three-month period has been negotiated with the EU for regulating supermarket goods transported from the rest of the UK following the end of the transition period.

Ulster powersharing
Ulster powersharing

The DUP minister said: “We do not need these barriers.

“We need common sense, particularly from the EU.

“We need a message going out from all of our companies that we do not need barriers which are going to put costs on.”

The Stormont minister also stood by his claim that school and hospital supplies could be affected once the grace period ends.

Some supermarket shelves were depleted this month as suppliers grappled with new rules surrounding sending goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland.

The protocol means Northern Ireland follows the EU’s rules on matters like animal product standards and creates extra paperwork on goods travelling from Great Britain.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said Northern Ireland remained an integral part of the UK’s internal market, with equal access to the other nations.

She warned of the impact on products like steel, which could face tariffs of up to 25%.

It is deemed by the EU to be at risk of entering the Single Market when arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

A cherry trifle (Geoff Kirby/PA)
A cherry trifle (Geoff Kirby/PA)

Mrs Dodds said she held talks with Cabinet Minister Michael Gove on Friday.

“I am encouraged that, following our representations, the Government know that this is a huge issue for Northern Ireland and we need to see a resolution.”

She envisaged a statement coming from the Government in the coming days on the issue.

“We do not want Northern Ireland’s manufacturers to be uncompetitive in their marketplace, nor do we want Northern Ireland’s manufacturers to feel that they have to move to Great Britain in order to continue their manufacturing process.

“This is a serious issue for manufacturing in Northern Ireland.

“The Government has promised a solution.”

Northern Ireland’s economy minister also called for the “chaos” at the port of Dublin to be sorted out since many goods made their way into Northern Ireland using that route.

She told the Assembly: “I would encourage this house and the parties in this house to ensure that our Government hears loud and clear that we need long-term solutions in relation to export health certificates, in relation to the issue of chilled foods and, indeed, the importance of our own internal UK internal market cannot be overstated.”