The UK Government is facing criticism over the Northern Ireland Protocol, amid warnings that it obstructs the “free movement” of armed forces.
The Ulster Unionist Party has said that, under the protocol, the Ministry of Defence must give 15 days’ notice for filling out customs declaration forms before it moves equipment from GB to NI. The party also said that NATO has to be notified of the move, while in response, the MoD insisted that NI operations will not be affected.
An Ulster Unionist MLA and former British Army Captain, Doug Beattie, said it was “ludicrous where UK armed forces cannot move around the UK with equipment without permission”. In a letter to NI Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, the Military Cross recipient called for urgent action to “protect military operations” in Northern Ireland. He wrote that “military equipment, and in some cases personnel, cannot be moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland unless they complete a customs form”. Mr Beattie added: “More worryingly, there will also be a need to complete a Nato form before any movement takes place.”
The First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, said that the Northern Ireland Protocol was “interfering” in the movement of Irish armed forces within the UK. The DUP Leader also stated that it was “unworkable, unfair and unacceptable”.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is interfering in the movement of our armed forces within the UK. It is unworkable, unfair and unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/e7LPgJIQoe
— Arlene Foster #WeWillMeetAgain (@ArleneFosterUK) January 29, 2021