Brexit tensions in Northern Ireland have escalated sharply, as checks on animal products and food arriving from Great Britain at the region’s largest ports were suspended following threats made to staff enforcing new trade rules.
The withdrawal of staff from the ports of Belfast and Larne comes amid local council anxiety about “sinister and menacing behaviour” and graffiti attacking the so-called Northern Ireland protocol in some areas dominated by hardline pro-British unionists.
The protocol, which keeps Northern Ireland within the EU’s customs regime and single market for goods, was introduced to maintain an open border with the Irish Republic after Brexit to protect the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
But it is bitterly opposed by all unionist parties, which wanted Northern Ireland to leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK, and its operation has become highly political.
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