Agriculture Minister says the Ukraine conflict and banning of ships will have ‘very significant’ impact on NI households
Northern Ireland ports have been advised to turn away all Russian ships following direction from the UK Government.
UK Transport secretary Grant Shapps made the move amid concerns about Russian owned ships scheduled to dock.
A spokesperson for Foyle Port, which operates on the outskirts of Derry, said it remains committed to working within the legislation set by the Department for Transport to support sanctions on Russian owned and managed ships.
In Belfast, the fate of a Russian vessel remains unclear. The Eduard Toll docked at Harland & Wolff’s shipyard earlier this month, where it is currently being worked on.
A government spokesperson said: “UK Government ministers have today signed legislation banning all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, chartered, registered or flagged from entering British ports.”
The banning of Russian ships will also be felt here as Northern Ireland farmers use nitrogen fertiliser for their crops.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Poots said he is not surprised at the directive.
But, he added: “There will be a cost to this for Northern Ireland, there will be a cost to the UK.
“So that’s just a reality, what is happening in Ukraine is just appalling beyond belief and sadly, in my view, there will be tens of thousands of people who will lose their lives over the course of the next number of days.
“That is just an awful in the 21st century that we have a war in Europe again. It is a war that has been instigated by an aggressor without just cause.
“The further consequence for us is that Ukraine has long been regarded as the bread basket of the USSR and subsequently the bread basket of Europe.
“We import grains from Ukraine which go into chicken production, dairy production and so forth and those won’t be available to us for the foreseeable future.
“There has been a series of mines put in the black sea.”
The Lagan Valley MLA explained that Russia is one of the largest suppliers of nitrogen fertiliser.
That will not be available in the same quantities and that will probably affect a number of crops, not just in Northern Ireland, but substantial parts of the world.
He said: “The consequence of that is that we’re likely to have less food available to us and the balance between having an over supply of food and an under supply is a very fine balance.
“Therefore, I fear that we could have food shortages in 2022 if we go into a protracted period of war.
“That could happen in months, this is the time of year Ukrainian people would be going out to plant their crops.”
Mr Poots continued: “That’s going to be hugely challenging given the circumstances that many of them find themselves in, some could come more quickly because we have exports that won’t be available to us.
“So, we’ll be looking for other sources to continue to feed the animal population here with proteins and that’ll probably come from North America and come at a cost.
“Certainly, the grain price will go up on the back of this. It’s likely the fertiliser price, which is already 300% higher than it was last year, will go up again.
“Oil prices and gas prices will all go certainly go up. So the impact on the householder, the consumer, is going to be very significant as a consequence of this invasion.”