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The North's Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, on Thursday called for "calmness" and "wise heads" after an organisation representing loyalist paramilitaries wrote to the Taoiseach and the British prime minister informing them that the groups were withdrawing their support for the Belfast Agreement.

The letter from the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) - which represents the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Red Hand Commando (RHC) - outlined its "unanimous opposition" to the protocol but said this should be "peaceful and democratic".

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Earlier on Thursday the Stormont Agriculture Committee heard from the senior civil servant in the North's Department of Agriculture, Denis McMahon, and the North's Chief Vet, Dr Robert Huey, about the decision by the Minister for Agriculture, the DUP's Gordon Lyons, to halt construction work on permanent inspection posts at ports and to suspend plans to introduce charges.

Mr McMahon confirmed that the department has sought legal advice on both points, and officials would ultimately have to comply with the law. An external legal challenge has also been launched against the Minister's decision.

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"And I've spoken about this to the commission on purely technical, not political, terms about `here is what I'm being asked to do by the Northern Ireland Protocol with my currently 12 vets, that's not going to work.' That's where we find ourselves. So the extension of grace period, if that is what occurs, is welcomed but it's not the solution," Dr Huey said.

"The scale of documentary checks is huge by any standards," said Mr McMahon, adding that 13,629 such checks were completed in January and February.

"Our population is under half a per cent of that across the European Union, yet the documentary checks, according to the systems completed so far, would represent one-fifth of the equivalent documentation right across the EU."

Of the shipments requiring documentary checks, 88 per cent also undergo identity checks and about 5 per cent full physical inspections.

Yes. Wasn't the EU a marvellously efficient operation by comparison? A pity you left it...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 6th, 2021 at 11:37:57 AM EST
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