Speaking in Fivemiletown, Mr Lyons said the Protocol was obstructing the rebuilding of Northern Ireland’s economy and warned that the current situation will worsen, if the Irish Sea Border is not removed.
Mr Lyons said.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol is the greatest threat to the economic stability of Northern Ireland and its continued imposition is obstructing our ability to rebuild our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.
Northern Ireland purchases from Great Britain are four times more valuable than those from Ireland. For businesses here in Northern Ireland, being separated from the Internal Market of the United Kingdom, which is by far our largest market, is having devastating consequences.
The current restrictions on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are simply unsustainable. Each and every day the Protocol is costing our economy £2.5 million.
Haulage costs between GB and Northern Ireland have risen by 27% as a direct result of the Protocol, at a time when households and businesses can least afford it.
No business anywhere in Northern Ireland has been able to escape the damage of the Protocol and the current situation will dramatically worsen, as the £500 million Trader Support Scheme and the so-called grace periods, which have temporarily shielded Northern Ireland from the worst excesses of the Protocol, come to an end.
The EU has stated in their push to create additional barriers to trade and for the intensification of checks, that the current number of checks being carried out are only 30% of what they should be. Indeed, they also want to start charging for them, something I was able to stop when I was the DAERA Minister.
We want Northern Ireland to have the best of both worlds, able to trade freely with the rest of the United Kingdom and the European Union.
But the Northern Ireland Protocol does not offer the best of both worlds, it confines Northern Ireland to the worst of all worlds.
We are determined to find solutions and to restore fairness for businesses here in Northern Ireland.
Only by restoring fairness, can we build for the future and ensure that Northern Ireland’s best days are yet to come.”