Mid and East Antrim Council ‘affirming opposition to NI Protocol’

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has refused to back an amendment by the Alliance Party to invite a top EU official and senior UK Government official to the borough to highlight difficulties faced by a “hard Brexit”.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 12:23 pm

Alliance has said that a meeting with EU Vice President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Sovereign Government Minister Lord Frost would be “a vehicle to identify how Council could assist in overcoming the difficulties and seeking acceptable, workable solutions”.

In a statement issued on social media after Monday evening’s meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Robert Logan said: “There is absolutely no point in writing to the DAERA Minister whose efforts are thus far unimpressive.

“In the meantime, the Alliance Party is leading demands for a UK-EU Veterinary Agreement, something that would go a long way to addressing the volume of checks and make the application of the protocol much less stark.

Larne port. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“So while the DUP and their friends continue to be disingenuous with their followers, staging stunt after stunt to distract from the misery they have brought on local people, only Alliance has a coherent plan which both the UK and EU have acknowledged as doable.”

Cllr Logan was commenting after a motion proposed by Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen and seconded by Ballymena TUV Councillor Matthew Armstrong “affirming the council’s opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol” was passed.

The council will also write to the DAERA Minister and Food Standards Agency to set out the difficulties faced by the authority “implementing its obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol”.

The motion also seeks the council’s “refusal to be used as a tool to impede the free flow of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland”.

Cllr Robert Logan

The council employs 12 environmental health officers to assist with checks at the port of Larne. Last month, they were withdrawn by the borough council over concerns for their security but returned to their duties four days later.

Speaking at the meeting, Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly queried why the motion was being “pushed” to the front of the meeting when it was due to be heard after items behind closed doors and the meeting was brought forward by half an hour.

He was told by the Mayor that Cllr McGregg “did not have to give a reason”.

Knockagh Alliance Councillor Alderman Noel Williams pointed out that according to the order of motions on the council register, the next motion due to be brought was “period poverty”.

Chief Executive Anne Donaghy explained that the agenda for Monday’s meeting had been “out” prior to a subsequent meeting being arranged.

Proposing the motion, Cllr McKeen said: “This council must sent out a clear message to the EU, Her Majesty’s Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the Northern Ireland Protocol is a complete failure and must be removed.

“We can see the damage and hurt this is causing to the people of Northern Ireland.

“You just have to look at supermarket shelves with lack of products on them being supplied from within GB.”

He went on to say that garden centres are having difficulty bringing seeds into Northern Ireland and must now pay additional costs to bring plants across from GB, adding on cost .

“Then there is the constitutional aspect of the Northern Ireland Protocol with a border now being placed in the Irish Sea,” he stated.

“This affects our rights as citizens of the United Kingdom and must be removed.

He commented that it was all being done “to appease Republicans and nationalism supported by the wishy washy Alliance Party”.

“We in this council are facing the brunt of the failures of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“We are being treated like second class citizens in our own country.”

Cllr Donnelly said that Alliance was “not being treated with respect when we are being called wishy washy”.

Seconding the motion, Cllr Armstrong said that the NI Protocol has “wreaked havoc on the haulage industry, causes businesses to lose money hand over fist” and ” is economically and constitutionally is cyanide to the Union”.

“I know there are also those who would have us believe that peace and the survival of the Single Market depends on the presence of officials at Larne to make sure that British soil and their sausages don’t make their way over from Cairnryan unhindered.

“I do not want to see workers withdrawn because of threats or alleged threats. I want to see them withdrawn as an act of political will both by the Agriculture Minister and by the council.

“I want all council and other workers gone from the sea border. It was and always will be unacceptable to me and my party.”

Deputy Mayor Ulster Unionist Councillor Andrew Wilson said he wanted to condemn the graffiti aimed at Bannside Sinn Fein Ballymena Councillor Ian Friary which he stated was “linked to the Northern Ireland Protocol” adding that “all threats are to be condemned”.

The motion was passed by 29 votes to 10.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read: NI Protocol: Council withdraws all staff from Larne Port due to ‘community tensions’

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