Northern Ireland court orders Brexit food checks to stay for now

Edwin Poots arrives at the DUP ruling executive meeting to ratify Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as party leader, in Belfast, Northern Ireland June 30, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

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  • The minister had ordered a halt to protests against the Brexit deal
  • Court hearing set for March 7
  • Delay leaves room for EU-UK talks

BELFAST, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The High Court in Belfast said on Friday that controls on the import of food and agricultural products from Britain to Northern Ireland under post-Brexit trade rules must remain in place, pending the outcome of a judicial review to be heard next month.

The court ruling means the checks will not be cleared before the end-February target that European Union and UK officials have set to resolve negotiations over easing trade restrictions to allay concerns in Northern Ireland. North.

UK Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots on Wednesday demanded an immediate end to controls on agricultural and food products entering the region from the rest of the UK.

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The move, part of protests by his Democratic Unionist Party, which opposes trade restrictions introduced as part of the EU exit deal with Britain, was described by an EU commissioner as a violation of international law. Read more

Poots’ order was not immediately implemented because his department said officials were “considering the wider implications of meeting the minister’s request.”

“I propose to make an order suspending the order – or instruction – given by the Minister of Agriculture – until further order of this court,” Judge Adrian Colton told the court on Friday.

Given that the controls had been in place since early 2021 and the order had been issued at very short notice, the “proper course was to maintain the status quo” pending the full hearing, he said. -he declares.

Colton has tentatively named March 7 for a full hearing on the legality of Poots’ order.

A Poots’ department attorney told the court his position was that the minister’s decision and the instructions given to officials were “entirely legal.” The ministry did not respond to a request for further comment.

Poots’ order was followed a day later by the resignation of Northern Ireland’s first minister, DUP member Paul Givan, in another protest against post-Brexit trade rules.

Ahead of the court’s ruling, Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney called both measures unnecessary and “extremely frustrating”.

But he told Irish broadcaster RTE that those measures had “not changed much” in terms of ongoing negotiations between London and Brussels.

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Reporting by Conor Humphries and Alan Erwin; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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