EU staff will be temporarily withdrawn from their work at Northern Irish ports due to security concerns, the EU Commission said on Tuesday (February 2).
“We asked them not to attend their duties today, and we will continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly,” an EU Commission spokesman said, adding that security of EU staff in Northern Ireland was a high priority.
Northern Ireland temporarily suspended some inspections at two ports late on Monday after a local council withdrew staff over concerns for their safety and police said they planned to increase patrols at points of entry.
Many pro-British unionists fiercely oppose the new trade barriers introduced between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as part of the Northern Ireland protocol, a standalone deal for the region after Britain left the EU.
The protocol was designed to maintain the principles of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland’s open border with Ireland by keeping the region in the UK’s customs territory but also aligned with the EU’s single market for goods.
The British-run region remains deeply divided along sectarian lines even after the 1998 peace deal, with Catholic nationalists aspiring to unification with Ireland and Protestant unionists wanting to remain part of the UK.