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NI Protocol: Irish sea border checks to continue until Monday as Edwin Poots faces legal challenges


Checks at the Port of Larne on Thursday morning ( Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)

Checks at the Port of Larne on Thursday morning ( Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)

Checks at the Port of Larne on Thursday morning ( Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)

DUP Minister Edwin Poots is facing legal challenges over ordering a halt to Irish Sea border checks.

Emergency applications for a judicial review of his decision commenced at the High Court in Belfast today.

The Agriculture Minister had instructed officials to stop inspections on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain at midnight.

Proceedings brought by two individuals were adjourned following assurances that no immediate steps will be taken in response to the order given.

A Departmental Solicitor’s Office told the court: “I can confirm the instructions shall not be acted upon before noon on Monday.”

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Mr Poots announced the move as part of the DUP’s opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Unionists claim the post-Brexit arrangements, which involve checks on British products to ensure compliance with EU laws, threatens the region’s status in the UK.

On Wednesday Mr Poots said he had received legal advice that he could direct a halt to inspections in the absence of approval for them from the wider Stormont Executive.

But the lawfulness of his decision is now under challenge.

One of the cases, brought by a man who has been granted anonymity, involves a claim that the Minister is frustrating a statutory purpose.

That individual’s barrister, Ronan Lavery QC, argued that the Executive has already dealt with the issue by allocating implementation of the Irish Sea border checks to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

But the step taken by Mr Poots was so significant and controversial that it required full Executive consent, he contended.

Adjourning the case to Friday, Mr Justice Colton acknowledged the indication given that checks will continue until then.

He said: “On the basis of that firm, clear and unequivocal undertaking there is no requirement for the court to make any orders today.”

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