FEARS are growing about the future of rural funding in Fermanagh post-Brexit, with the Westminster government being urged to give assurances tens of millions in lost EU financial support will be fully replaced.
Last week the agriculture and rural affairs ministers from the North, Scotland, and Wales, including Minister Edwin Poots, wrote an open letter to the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP. In it the letter they repeated their previous request for clarity on the future of rural funding for the devolved administrations, a request they said had gone unanswered by the Westminster government.
The letter stated the North’s farming and rural communities were set to lose out on up to £34 million in funding over the next few years.
“At the heart of all these matters is the choice made by the UK Government not to collectively engage with us on equal footing,” the letter stated. “We trust you will now seek to work with us as a matter of urgency to deliver upon your own commitments and offer certainty to all of our farming communities and your own.”
Meanwhile, Fermanagh MLA Rosemary Barton, who is the Ulster Unionist’s agriculture and rural affairs spokeswoman, hit out at the lack of clarity for businesses in relation to the movement of goods come January 1st, when Brexit comes into force for the first time.
Ms Barton said she’d been fielding queries “coming from a huge cross-section of businesses” about the post-Brexit situation.
“It appears so much remains without clear government guidance that businesses are finding it impossible to plan ahead,” she said.
Ms Barton said many of the concerns were over the movement of goods between the UK and the North post-Brexit, or the future status of goods in the North, as a result of the previously agreed Irish Protocol. The ‘protocol’ was the agreement reached between the UK and the EU that will see the North keep to EU trade and customs rules to ensure a hard border does not return in Ireland and protect the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).
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Posted: 1:03 pm December 18, 2020