Northern Ireland's agriculture minister has ordered a halt from midnight to all post-Brexit checks on goods coming into the region from the rest of the United Kingdom, a move some of his partners in government say is unlawful.
Edwin Poots, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, which opposes the Northern Ireland protocol mandating such checks, cited legal advice that the measures should not have been introduced without approval from the regional government.
He added that he would seek a way forward "in the near future" within the devolved government that his party shares with rivals who support the protocol agreed with the European Union before the UK left the EU two years ago.
"The advice concluded that I can direct the checks to cease in the absence of executive approval. I have now issued a formal instruction to halt all checks that were not in place on December 31 2020 from midnight tonight," Poots told a news conference.
The UK and the EU have been in talks for months to amend the protocol that was designed to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland but has effectively created one in the Irish Sea, angering pro-British unionists.
Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Fein, which supports the protocol, described Poots' move as a "stunt" and "an attempt by the DUP to unlawfully interfere with domestic and international law".
Asked last week about the DUP's threats to halt the checks, UK Foreign Secretary and Brexit negotiator Liz Truss said it was a matter for the Northern Ireland regional government to resolve, rather than one for officials in London to intervene on.
Australian Associated Press
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