Poots warns over lack of vets to deliver NI Protocol

Poots warns over lack of vets to deliver NI Protocol

Newly-elected DUP leader says non-compliance is 'last resort'

Newly-elected DUP leader Edwin Poots has said the number of vets required to enforce the Northern Ireland Protocol makes it “undeliverable”.

His comments came after Northern Ireland’s chief veterinary officer Robert Huey told a Stormont committee the 1,350 GB lorries bound for Northern Ireland retailers every week would require 20-30,000 certifications between them when the grace period ends, while he currently has 12 vets to do that work.

“We don’t have the staff to actually do this job,” said Mr Poots

“The number of vets that are required are non-existent, it takes five years to train vets, there’s already a shortage of vets in the United Kingdom.

“What I am saying and saying clearly, is that is not practical, and is not possible.

NI Chief Vet Robert Huey has 12 vets to carry out checks

“We need to go back to the drawing board, and I believe that there are solutions.”

The incoming DUP leader told Times Radio he thought arguments against the Protocol from unionism are being heard by the UK Government.

He said “I believe that they are having a significant impact within the UK Government, and that there is a lot of listening happening and I’m heartened by that.

“We’re also looking at the legal remedies and I have consulted with senior counsel based in London on this.

“I would hope to lead a challenge from a number of departments: health, economy and indeed my own department of agriculture and environment on this issue.

“Those areas will be sought first should we be put back into the corner.”

Asked if his “last resort”was non-compliance with border checks, he replied: “Absolutely.”