The penny is finally beginning to drop with the DUP that there is nothing good to come from Brexit for our economy, a Sinn Fein MLA has said.
John O'Dowd criticised the party after Economy Minister Diane Dodds warned that agreement on the operation of post-Brexit Irish Sea trade arrangements had only pushed some of the main problems down the road.
Diane Dodds said there remained a need to find long-term solutions to issues around export health certification and the potential of certain chilled meats being prohibited from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
Last week the UK and EU agreed how the Northern Ireland protocol would operate once the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
The protocol will see Northern Ireland remain in the EU Single Market for goods, necessitating additional regulatory checks and certifications on animal-based products entering the region from Great Britain.
Retailers had warned that food supplies could have been disrupted from January 1, with additional checks and paperwork delaying their transportation.
The agreement on the protocol's operation will provide supermarkets with a three-month grace period to adjust to new post-Brexit Irish Sea trading arrangements.
As it stands, certain chilled meats would be banned from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain under single market rules.
Another grace period has been agreed to allow the trade in chilled meats to continue for six months.
Mrs Dodds told members of her Assembly scrutiny committee that three and six months did not provide a lot of time to find wider resolutions.
"It's been incredibly difficult to help businesses to get ready when in fact there has been agreements on some of these issues so late in the day," she said.
The minister said the agreement on the protocol had resolved some issues - like dispensing with the need for most NI traders to fill out export declarations on goods moving to Britain - but she stressed it had not addressed all the concerns of the business community.
"It doesn't resolve all of our issues, and actually puts some of the issues, just pushes them down the road a little bit," she said.
"We've got to a better place on the NI/GB transfer of goods. We have managed to avoid a hard stop in relation to export health certificates and the import of goods into Northern Ireland and on the issue of chilled meats we've got a six-month derogation.
"Remember those are not terribly long amounts of time in which to seek proper solutions to all of the issues."
Afterwards, Mr O'Dowd said that "it seems that DUP economy minister Diane Dodds has finally woken up to the realities of Brexit and the hugely negative impact on our economy with her remarks at the economy committee this morning".
"That has been the message coming from the business community, from traders, from retail, from agriculture and from every aspect of society for the last four years but the DUP are only hearing it now," he said.
"After four years of cheerleading for Brexit the penny is finally beginning to drop with the DUP that there is no good to come from Brexit.
"They now need to drop the rhetoric and join with the majority in the north who oppose Brexit and work to build our economy on an all-island basis."
During her appearance before the committee, Mrs Dodds was also asked about her department's ongoing efforts to provide financial support to businesses hit by the Covid pandemic.
She said almost 32,000 businesses had received financial support to date through a range of schemes. She added £350m of support had been provided, with the prospect of another £194m being made available.