Concerns raised as EU trigger article to prevent vaccine moving through NI to UK

Concerns raised as EU trigger article to prevent vaccine moving through NI to UK

The EU has moved to prevent Northern Ireland from being used as a back door to funnel coronavirus vaccine from the bloc into the rest of the UK.

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin spoke to the European Commission’s president last night to express concerns over EU plans to block the supply of Covid-19 vaccinations into the North.

In an unexpected move yesterday, the EU triggered Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol on Brexit, in a bid to prevent the North from being used as a back door to funnel coronavirus vaccines from the EU via the North into the rest of the UK.

The protocol, part of the Brexit withdrawal deal, normally allows for free movement of goods from the EU into the North.

It comes amid the ongoing row between the EU and vaccine supplier AstraZeneca over the number of vaccines made available to EU countries including Ireland.

It was confirmed yesterday that Ireland will receive 300,000 fewer vaccine doses in the first three months of this year than anticipated.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney tweeted on the Article 16 issue: “We are working with the EU Commission to try to resolve this issue and protect the integrity and operation of the NI Protocol.”

Meanwhile, Stormont first minister Arlene Foster branded the EU’s triggering of Article 16 an “incredible act of hostility”.

Ms Foster called for a “robust response” on the issue from the UK government.

Senior government sources indicated to RTÉ News last night that the Government’s concerns have been taken onboard and a resolution was in sight.

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