UUP hosts a Virtual Business Engagement Zoom meeting for local Businesses affected by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
South Down UUP representatives hosted a Virtual Business Engagement Zoom meeting for local Businesses affected by the Northern Ireland Protocol imposed on 1st January.
The discussion held last Friday saw over 60 local businesses engage in a “very positive event” talking about the problems and issues they are encountering and how they feel these matters could be addressed more easily.
The event was hosted by Doug Beattie MLA, along with local UUP Councillors, Lord Empey and the UUP policy team.
Doug Beattie MLA said: “This was an excellent opportunity and very positive event for businesses who are badly affected by the current protocol to give some feedback on what needs to be done to help their business individually, and how we can help as elected representatives.
“The UUP believe that these are not teething problems. The entire Protocol is fundamentally flawed, and we want to see it removed as a matter of urgency.:
Mr Beattie added: “That is why we have launched a paper with practical solutions to help businesses today and in the coming weeks as we work together to overcome the difficulties.
“The operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol has frustrated the Great Britain to Northern Ireland supply chain. Just weeks after the Protocol has come into operation, we are seeing a decrease in the availability of certain products on our shelves, increased prices, some companies opting out of supplying to Northern Ireland altogether and hauliers are crying out for solutions to be found to barriers they are facing.
“We can’t just sit back and let the businesses in Northern Ireland be the price that must be paid for the delivery of Brexit for Great Britain.
“Now is the time for all political parties to join together to call on both the EU Commission and UK government to replace the Protocol with something that will actually work for the people of NI.”
Speaking after the successful event, Councillor Jill Macauley said: “On behalf of our local UUP Council groups, we were delighted to see so many businesses take part in our Business engagement webinar, to discuss the serious affects and challenges that they are having to deal with because of the Northern Ireland Protocol imposed on 1st January.
“We have many new and long-established successful business in our local area of South Down, and as political representatives, we wanted to engage with them and offer our support to them going forward in the face of many challenges.
“From the outset, the Ulster Unionist Party opposed the Northern Ireland Protocol and the imposition of an Irish Sea border.
“We view it as a direct challenge to the Belfast Agreement and have repeatedly raised our concerns at what the effects would be of placing a trade border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
“This is an issue that goes far beyond symbolism or identity. We are seeing the real time effects of what is proving to be an unworkable policy.
“It is important to recognise that the problems being faced by many in the Great Britain to Northern Ireland supply chain are at a time when COVID-19 restrictions are in place which is masking the true scale of what the problems will be.”
Jill added that the UUP will continue to work with local businesses to ensure that they see a fair playing field for operating going forward and added: “We will be engaging on a regular basis so that they all get the chance to feedback.