By Jamie Bryson
Despite all unionist parties opposing the Protocol, every council in Northern Ireland has listed as having signed up- approved by councillors- to a scheme whereby the council receives £49,541.41 a year “to enhance their provision to operationalise the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In this role the council undertakes to “carry out risk-based market surveillance interventions on goods throughout the supply chain” and to “manage and act on intelliegence” in relation to local businesses.
The objective is to “co-operate and coordinate market surveillance activity across Northern Ireland to ensure compliance with EU regulatory requirements”.
This scheme has been ongoing for three years in some council areas, with the last tranche of funding dished out before the end of the financial year in March 2022, with work continuing in 2022/23 financial year.
It is funded under Article 18 of EU Regulation 765/2008 which- it states- is supposed to apply only to ‘member states’ of the European Union. Northern Ireland is not a member state of the European Union.
This comes after it was revealed on BBC Nolan Show that a business in Bangor Co Down had been visited by Protocol enforcers threatening to seize supernoodles that had travelled from GB to NI without satisfying the constitutionally abominable requirements of the Union-subjugating Protocol.
The funding being availed of by councils is “offered”, therefore they can choose to reject it. Participation in this EU spy ring is optional, which is made clear in the service level agreement (Clause 3.2) because any party to the agreement can terminate it with three months notice.
In effect local councils are spying on businesses on behalf of the EU. This includes councils which are unionist dominated.
The detail, which will have been seen by councillors in all areas before seemingly approving the scheme, is set out in a service level agreement between Causeway Coast and Glens Council, and ten other councils in Northern Ireland which are all listed.
Causeway Coast and Glens are the lead partner in the scheme, which is funded under Article 18 (3) of the Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, and the other councils draw the funding down via Causeway Coast and Glens.
In the previous financial year, Causeway Coast and Glens council received £55,000 for carrying out surveillance to ensure Protocol implementation.
Causeway Coast and Glens is a unionist dominated council, yet not one single unionist objected to the adoption of the controversial ‘spying’ scheme by that council.
In Ards and North Down the DUP and UUP agreed the proposal, with the UUP enthusiastically supporting it in committee before it came to full council. In appears the DUP were simply confused by misleading information provided by council officials, however in future one would hope councillors take the time to read the documents in their packs.
In that council Stephen Cooper, Independent Tom Smith and the late Alderman James Menagh opposed it.
The full Ards and North Down Borough Council was held days beofre the collapse of the Executive due to the DUP’s principled stand in refusing to any further implement the Protocol.
In the service level agreement it explicitly states that the purpose is to “build capacity and capability for product safety market surveillance” and “to meet the provisions of the EU Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol”.
This should be clear enough, but incase it isn’t the Annex B of the service level agreement emphasises that the purpose is to “implement the Northern Ireland Protocol”, which has the effect of “subjugating” Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.
This revelation will understandably cause outrage across unionist communities. It is understood that the leadership of the DUP had no knowledge of this scheme, and it seems council officials may have sought to conceal it buried within detailed packs to councillors.
However, regardless of how this monstrous spy ring was conceived, it is plainly the case that unionist dominated councils must now urgently revoke these arrangements and give notice of termination under Clause 3.2
No self-respecting unionist can participate in, let alone enhance, the operation of the Protocol.
The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has made clear the party will be taking steps to try and terminate the scheme, as have the TUV. The UUP are presently silent as to whether they will continue to support the implementation of the Protocol.
Moreover, going forward, unionist councillors must be more diligent in order that no further EU spy rings are set up under their noses!
You can download the full ‘service level agreement’ :