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Possible two-way ban on meat products between UK and Ireland 'concerning', says Agriculture Minister

RTÉ reports that the UK intends to replicate the EU’s food safety regime which restricts meat products from outside the union.

Image: Shutterstock/Billion Photos

AGRICULTURE MINISTER CHARLIE McConalogue has said his department is working closely with European Commission representatives to avoid the possibility of a ban on certain meat products between Ireland and the UK. 

McConalogue’s comments come following reports that the UK and the EU are engaging in last-minute talks to prevent a ‘two-way ban’ on certain meat products between the UK and the island of Ireland.

RTÉ reports that the UK intends to replicate the EU’s food safety regime which restricts meat products from outside the union. The UK’s reciprocal ban would prohibit such products from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

  • Read more here on how you can support a major Noteworthy project to find out if recent price crashes has exposed the beef sector’s soft underbelly.

Speaking to Morning Ireland, McConalogue said the issue is concerning but very much reflective of Brexit. 

“Obviously it is something which is concerning, it’s a reflection of the many issues which Brexit is causing,” he said. 

“Also, the fact that we haven’t had an agreed trade deal yet and discussions are still ongoing despite the intention and the hope that this would have been resolved previously. This emphasises the importance of a deal being finalised promptly.

“Obviously there’s going to be significant work then required in the weeks ahead as well to ensure that the trade is as smooth, and as efficient as possible on the first of January.”

At 11pm on 31 December, Brexit in practice will kick in and the UK will be leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market, which will have a huge impact on people and business owners in Ireland who send goods to, from or through the UK.

This will mean that the EU – and by extension, Ireland – will treat Great Britain as a ‘third country’ for the purposes of trade.

Regardless of whether there is a trade deal done by then, McConalogue said documentation will have to be in place for all exports going to Britain, varying across a range of different products.

Speaking yesterday, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there has been “intensive” engagement for weeks and there are now “texts on all areas”. He added that it remained to be seen whether the text on the outstanding areas could be agreed.

Over 90% of topics have been agreed upon and drafted but three main obstacles have remained as a block to securing a final deal before the deadline: the level playing field, governance, and fisheries.  

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Martin said that a deal is “in the best interest of the United Kingdom, of Ireland and of the European Union”.

Trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, being researched and discussed by a separate committee, remain unclear ahead of 31 December when the UK will leave the Brexit transitionary period. 

Addressing concerns that Northern Ireland consumers will be left with less choice on shelves and more expensive goods, the Taoiseach said: 

“There are issues that people have genuinely raised on the UK side and within Northern Ireland. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister wrote jointly to us in relation to that and however it goes, the discussions on the protocol have gone well and so I would be confident we can resolve those as well.”

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Adam Daly

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