Wednesday 23 October 2019

Live animals may have to undergo border checks in event of no-deal Brexit

Documents suggest that border checks on live animals will have to take place from Brexit Day onwards Stock image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Documents suggest that border checks on live animals will have to take place from Brexit Day onwards Stock image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

LIVE animals could have to undergo checks at the border if the UK continues towards a disorderly Brexit.

The European Commission has today released plans for dealing with a no-deal scenario, including how it plans to mitigate the impact on trade.

Worryingly for Ireland, the documents suggest that border checks on live animals will have to take place from Brexit Day onwards.

They say that if the UK crashes out of the EU on March 29, “every consignment of live animals and animal products coming from the UK would have to undergo, as of the withdrawal date, checks in Union border inspection posts (BIPs) at the point of entry into the EU”.

How exactly this would be dealt with on the island of Ireland is not outlined.

In relation to the movement of people, the Commission has urged EU members to take a "generous" approach to the rights of UK citizens in the EU following a no-deal Brexit, "provided that this approach is reciprocated by the UK".

EU27 states should ensure UK citizens legally residing in the EU on the date of withdrawal will continue to be considered legal residents and should take a "pragmatic" approach to granting temporary residence status, it said.

UK nationals should be exempt from visa requirements, provided that all EU citizens are equally exempt from UK visas.

It comes as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed plans to recruit more than 300 new police officers and staff by 2020.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "Since the referendum result, PSNI have been working with our partners to ensure we are in the best position possible to respond to any changes presented by Brexit.

"We welcome this additional funding which will allow us to recruit a total of 308 additional officers and staff by April 2020 and make some investment in our estate, IT and infrastructure.

"The ethos of policing with the community has been central to our planning and I want to reassure the communities we serve that this money will be used to keep people safe, by preventing harm, protecting people and bringing offenders to justice."

Meanwhile, the British government has put 3,500 troops on standby to help deal with potential disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.

The UK cabinet agreed to activate all its no-deal plans and advised the public to prepare for disruptions.

The contingency plans outline how the public will be urged to prepare themselves and their families over the Christmas holidays.

Television advertisement and social media are expected to be used to for public service announcements. Some 3,500 troops will be on standby to help deal with any disruptions, ranging from emergency engineering work to shortage of supplies such as medicines. UK government sources insisted they were not being put in place to deal with public disorder.

Businesses will receive a 100-plus page online package to help them get ready. Emails to 80,000 of the most likely to be affected companies will be sent over the next few days.

Leo Varadkar's own proposals include '45 items' of fast-track legislation

It comes as the Irish Government prepares to publish its own no-deal contingency plans, which include proposals to have dozens of pieces of legislation passed by TDs in just 29 days.

Their plan could see all Dáil business set aside in order to facilitate the passage of legislation to ensure the continued payment of pensions and recognition of cross-border healthcare arrangements.

The Dáil breaks for almost a month today, returning on the same week that the British prime minister intends to finally put her Brexit deal to a vote in Westminster.

However, there is growing concern among Opposition parties here that there will not be enough time to adequately debate the ramifications of a no-deal scenario.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar continues to insist Ireland is ready, but Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin questioned the level of detail made public.

"Is it envisaged we would pass 45 pieces of legislation in 29 days that are sight unseen at this stage?" he asked.

Mr Howlin demanded the Taoiseach provide a "comprehensive briefing" in advance of the recess so that TDs will be in a position to "scrutinise measures that might be necessary" over the holidays.

"I heard the British secretary of state for health say that he had become the biggest purchaser of fridges in the world as they stockpile medicines. That is how absurd things have become.

"We need to know specifically what we must do here to be ready for it and not be inundated by legislation we have not had time to reflect upon when we come back after the recess," Mr Howlin said.

Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers demanded a debate, saying all projections for Budget 2019 were based on an assumption that there would be a deal.

Mr Varadkar said there are "45 items" that will need to be dealt with - but they are not all primary legislation that will need Dáil approval.

"Some regulation, some statutory instrument and some primary legislation of it but also the non-legislative aspects of it," he told the Dáil, adding he will ensure a full briefing is provided as soon as possible.

Speaking this morning, Mr Varadkar rejected charges by Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, that the Government was being unduly “secretive” about preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Martin insisted that he was by-passing the democratically elected parliament which he would soon be asking to put through special Brexit legislation. There was also a question of the Budget for next year having to be revised to take account of the need for extra investment.

“Do you have any respect for the Dáil at all?” the Fianna Fáil leader asked. He added that the Dáil Christmas break began today, and there would only be 29 Dáil sitting days next year before the Brexit deadline. 

The Taoiseach said that he wanted to await the EU Commission's plans for a no-deal Brexit.

He said Ireland’s plans must dovetail with these EU plans, and Irish plans would emerge tomorrow after a meeting with business and other groups concerned by Brexit.

But Mr Varadkar also repeated his statement of last Friday that even a no-deal Brexit would not cause a mini-Budget in spring 2019. He also again stressed that he believed a no-deal Brexit was “unlikely.”

The Taoiseach said the Budget presented on October 9 last was framed with Brexit economic fallout in mind. He said there would be a small budget surplus this year and a larger one next year, a “Rainy Day Fund” will set up next year, and there will be 25pc extra investment in transport, housing and other infrastructure projects.

“It is not intended that we would re-visit the Budget or introduce a mini-Budget,” Mr Varadkar insisted.

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