Micheal Martin challenges Sophie Raworth over Brexit comment
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The Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol prevents goods from Great Britain from entering Northern Ireland unchecked. Despite a deal on the movement of medicines being signed by the UK Government and Brussels last year, the import of key medical devices is still being held up by the hated Protocol.
According to lawyer Clive Thorne, Northern Irish businesses suffering from the provisions of the Protocol are taking the EU to court.
The lawyer from McCarthy Denning, partner and Vice Chairman of Lawyers for Britain told Express.co.uk: “There are two cases going on at the moment, I’m handling one in which I’ve been acting for a number of companies in Northern Ireland who suffered damage as a result of the protocol.
“And the evidence in those cases are the particular types of companies are suffering hauliers.
“Agriculture, food, general retail, medical devices are causing a big problems because all these are governed by EU restrictions.
“Pharmaceuticals were a problem.
Brexit deal: The Northern Ireland Protocol is blocking medical devices to reach NI from Great Britai (Image: GETTY)
Northern Ireland Bill is ‘economic vandalism’ on the region, says Martin (Image: GETTY)
“I mean, it was very difficult to get certain surgical products from the UK into Northern Ireland.
“But a deal was done with the EU as sort of concessions whereby they wouldn’t enforce the protocol in relation to pharmaceuticals.
“But it doesn’t apply to medical devices. So try to think of examples of medical devices, sort of bandages, foot support.
“I got evidence from a podiatrist who was finding it virtually impossible to get equipment for use in a field if you’ve got damaged feet.
“Medical devices generally have been a problem and cosmetics are another one.
“So it’s caused a lot of problems.”
Mr Thorne also said cattle breeders in Northern Ireland and their buyers in Scotland are suffering from the Protocol restrictions.
He said: “Another good example is pedigree cattle, which used to be bred in Northern Ireland, shipped across to Stranraer and then sold in markets in Carlisle and Stirling in Scotland.
“And that’s no longer possible.
“So it’s not just the farmers who’ve suffered, but it’s the owners of the markets in Scotland and England, in Carlisle and Stirling who suffered because they’re not getting that profitable business.
“And some companies as well find it too expensive because they’re having to pay customs duties to the EU when they import into Northern Ireland and they’re just finding it too expensive.”
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Brexit news: Five key moments that led to the UK leaving the EU (Image: EXPRESS)
In a bid to scrap the Protocol, the UK Government introduced the Northern Ireland Bill last week, which Mr Thorne defended as a “very sensible” legal weapon.
But Irish premier Micheal Martin has said the legislation “economic vandalism” on the region.
“The unilateral decision of the British government to bring in legislation to undermine or to give the power to undermine almost all aspects of the protocol is not acceptable,” Mr Martin told BBC One.
“It represents unilateralism of the worst kind in terms of honouring and adhering to international agreements that governments adhere to and sign up to and ratify in their parliaments.
“We accept fully there are legitimate issues around the operation of the protocol and we believe with serious, sustained negotiations between the European Union and United Kingdom Government those issues could be resolved.”
He said the legislation is “deeply concerning” industry and businesses in Northern Ireland.
“In effect, it represents a form of economic vandalism on Northern Ireland because if we look at any objective data, it is now showing that the Northern Ireland economy is doing very well. Manufacturing is doing very well,” Mr Martin added.
“The dairy industry, the meat industry, the food industry generally and agriculture is doing very well.
“There are certain areas where we can improve the protocol and we should continue to do that.”
Express.co.uk has approached the EU for comment.