Brexit: Jewish community in Northern Ireland struggling to get kosher meat in time for Passover, says DUP

Additional paperwork due to Northern Ireland Protocol continue to cause disruption to supply chains

Kate Ng
Wednesday 10 March 2021 06:56 GMT
Traditional Passover meal features lamb
Traditional Passover meal features lamb (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The post-Brexit trade agreement has made it difficult for the Jewish community in Northern Ireland to get kosher meat in time for the Passover festival, the DUP has said.

Disruption to supply chains caused by additional red tape since the end of the transition period has led to a series of bureaucratic obstacles, including interrupting supplies of specialist cricket soil from Great Britain.

The Jewish Passover festival begins towards the end of March, and a central part of the meal is lamb. Northern Ireland has a small Jewish community centred around north Belfast.

“This is something which is very concerning,” first minister Arlene Foster said.

“We have a very small Jewish community here in Northern Ireland. The fact that they cannot access kosher meat is something that would cause me a great deal of concern.”

A spokesperson for the government said: “We recognise the importance of ensuring the Jewish community in Northern Ireland can continue to access kosher meats and that the process of getting these goods to them is as smooth as possible for traders.

“We were made aware of an issue with a single supplier and have worked proactively and constructively with those concerned to ensure that an alternative GB supplier  is now in place.”

The UK government has unilaterally extended some grace periods associated with the protocol to try and avoid a cliff-edge plunge into extra paperwork.

But the EU has threatened legal action and described the decision to extend grace periods as a potential breach of international law.

The DUP is opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol and has vowed to overthrow it, amid fears it damages the integrity of the UK internal market and Northern Ireland’s place in it.

Ms Foster told the Stormont Assembly the protocol was affecting trade and identity for unionists, and called for a “replacement of the protocol”.

“There is a need to deal with that urgently because there is damage happening to the economy in northern Ireland,” she said, adding the variation had to happen otherwise some product lines would have quickly dried up.

“I listened very clearly to what the business community want and they do not want the continuation of what we have seen in this protocol.”

Meanwhile, John Stewart, an Ulster Unionist Assembly member, said a ban on bringing in specialist cricket pitch soil — known as loam — from England because of the protocol is farcical.

He said: “Here we have another example of the EU using a sledgehammer to crack a non-existent nut.

“There is no threat to the European single market or EU plant health standards by continuing the age-old tradition of bringing in ‘loam’ to create, build and maintain cricket pitches throughout Northern Ireland, and the Republic for that matter.

“Groundsmen across the country have been told that it is currently prohibited and it is not an exaggeration to say that this prohibition could threaten the future of cricket here.”

Additional reporting by PA

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