Time is running out at ports, warns chief vet

Time is running out at ports, warns chief vet
The Port of Belfast.

NI’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, has warned that ‘time is running out’ as he strives to have post-Brexit checks in place at ports and airports in NI by January.

Speaking recently, Mr Huey said that the task of recruiting staff and installing facilities at the ports was causing ‘a huge amount of difficulty’ for his department.

And he warned MLA’s that he would have to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ if the task was to be completed.

‘It is almost too late, standing on hilltops shouting at each other, we need to fix this,’ added the chief vet.

Mr Huey made his comments late last week after Denis McMahon, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Agriculture, had described the work to put facilities at the ports in place for the start of next year as ‘a monumental challenge’ and a task that was ‘almost impossible’.

Speaking to a recent meeting of the agriculture committee at Stormont, Mr McMahon assured members that work was proceeding towards the deadline but that his staff still lacked ‘a great deal of clarity’.

When members questioned Mr McMahon on the status of the Brexit negotiations between UK and EU officials, he told them that is was hard to know how the talks would conclude:

‘Your interpretation is as good as mine,’ he said.

And while Mr McMahon did say that work at the ports would be done on time, he also said that he believed ‘not everything would be in place’ and that the ports ‘may not look pretty’.

robert huey
NI Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey.