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Figures reveal scale of post-Windsor Framework checks on goods entering NI from GB

Thousands of checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain under Windsor Framework regulations are taking place every month, figures show.

Under the Windsor Framework checks are required on some goods coming into the region from across the Irish Sea.

While the deal to restore Stormont may have removed “routine” checks on goods from Great Britain moving into Northern Ireland with the intention to stay there, some inspections and paperwork are still required.

Last October the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme (NIRMS) replaced the existing Scheme for Temporary Agrifood Movements into NI (STAMNI).

Under the STAMNI, in January of last year 5,948 documentary and container seal checks were carried out on goods coming into Northern Ireland from GB, as well as 159 identification checks.

In January this year, under the newer NIRMS scheme, 6,095 documentary and seal checks were carried out, in addition to 592 identification checks and 13 post-movement assurance checks.

Between February 1 and February 22 – the latest figures available – 4,584 documentary and seal checks took place, as well as 471 identification checks and six post-movement assurance checks.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the figures “very clearly establish” that there has been “no diminution of checks under either the Windsor Framework or the Donaldson Deal, despite the contrary promises in respect of both”.

“The rigour of the Irish Sea border continues unabated. This, of course, is because the cause of the checks, namely NI’s subjection to the EU Customs Code, is untouched by both (the Framework) and the Donaldson Deal,” he said.

“It is this Customs Code which decrees GB a foreign country whose goods must be checked coming into the EU territory, which NI is deemed to be under the unaltered Protocol.”

Earlier this week it emerged that permanent post-Brexit border inspection posts in Northern Ireland could cost up to £192.3m.

Since January 2021 checks on goods have been taking place at temporary facilities at NI ports, while permanent posts are currently under construction.

The cost of these posts emerged after a House of Lords question tabled by Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey.

“The construction of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Inspection Facilities in Northern Ireland is supported by an agreed business case which provides a funding envelope of up to a maximum of £192.3 million,” Lord Douglas-Miller, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said.

“This figure is just an envelope and is not guaranteed as the department always aspires to come in under budget.”

Lord Empey said he was “genuinely shocked at the revelation of the huge cost”.

“How anybody can say with a straight face that the border in the Irish Sea is gone, escapes me. It’s all spin and doing serious damage to the credibility of those making such claims,” he added.

Earlier this year Sir Jeffrey said the deal which restored Stormont removed restrictions on goods coming into NI from GB.

“Zero checks, zero customs paperwork on goods moving within the United Kingdom,” he said.

“That takes away the border within the UK between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and that is something that’s very important.”


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