Thursday, October 28

Northern Ireland paralyzes port controls after threats to staff


London Correspondent

Updated:

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The tension in the borders between the United Kingdom and the European Union has been constant since the country ceased to be part of the community group on January 31, but now this tension is also being suffered in North Ireland, whose authorities decided to suspend the controls introduced after the divorce in the ports of Belfast Y Larne due to threats suffered by border workers.

Specifically, threatening graffiti has appeared, labeling officials as “targets” and some have reported witnessing suspicious activity such as the annotation of vehicle license plates. The Deputy Chief of Police, Mark McEwanHe explained that they are aware that there is “anonymous information” in circulation that has caused “real concern” among staff, although he dismissed rumors that the intimidation could come from loyalist paramilitaries and radical Protestants.

Peter JohnstonMayor of Larne, described the graffiti as “very worrying” and explained that their appearance has led to “a considerable increase in tensions in the community.” According to the Government, the controls were suspended “in the interests of the welfare of the personnel”, while the Police confirmed an increase in the presence in the area to reassure both customs workers and the rest of the population.

The Irish authorities already announced a month ago that they expected serious problems to manage the trade between the islands, which amounts to 80,000 million euros, but it is likely that they made reference to logistics issues, while what is worrying now is the political tint of the threats. Although at the moment they do not go beyond graffiti, they are a sensitive subject on an island that suffered a bloody war for decades. The controls that began to operate a month ago in the ports of the island of Ireland are a direct consequence of the divorce between London and Brussels, since to avoid a hard land border between the two Irlandes, an essential requirement to respect the Peace Agreement that ended the violence, commercial goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain now require a customs declaration. This is the case of food and veterinary products, which also need health certificates and therefore must be inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

EU condemnation

The Northern Ireland Protocol establishes that the province will remain in the EU’s single market for goods, forcing it to apply EU customs rules in its ports. The aim is for products to flow from there to the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU as now, without customs controls or new paperwork, but there are groups that are against the measure. Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin described the events as “sinister” and the European Commission condemned the threats.

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