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Pragmatism and political will needed to make NI Protocol work

Aodhan Connolly, NI Retail Consortium


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Aodhan Connolly says Northern Ireland businesses did not want the NI Protocol but it is the law now and the business community has proven it is willing to put in the hard graft to make it work. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Aodhan Connolly says Northern Ireland businesses did not want the NI Protocol but it is the law now and the business community has proven it is willing to put in the hard graft to make it work. (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Aodhan Connolly says Northern Ireland businesses did not want the NI Protocol but it is the law now and the business community has proven it is willing to put in the hard graft to make it work. (Liam McBurney/PA)

I was in the privileged position of being one of several business leaders that was asked to meet with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove and Vice-President of the European Union, Maros Sefcovic in a short but important meeting on the implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.

At that meeting I had the chance to explain the challenges for the retail sector and consumers in Northern Ireland. The transition period was a misnomer as it was simply a protracted negotiation period with some of the new regulations only coming in a few hours prior to the end of the transition period. It is therefore a testament to the hard work of those in the retail and logistics industry that out of 40 to 50,000 products in the average supermarket, only a few hundred were unavailable given the new trading conditions and the constraints of the pandemic.

But April 1 presents a huge challenge to retailers and also households in Northern Ireland. The end of the grace period on parcels and EHCs, plus customs requirements, will put unprecedented pressure on our supply chains. To countermand these pressures we need four things.


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