Stormont agriculture department refuses to meet committee probing Brexit impacts
STORMONT'S DUP-led agriculture department has been criticised for not meeting the Committee of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (Bipa) to discuss the impact of Brexit.
The meeting in Belfast on Thursday heard from the Republic's Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
But according to Ulster Unionist peer Sir Reg Empey, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) declined to send an official to speak to the committee, which was hearing from individuals and organisations in the sectors most likely to be affected by Brexit.
"Given agriculture is such an important component of the local economy we were of course very keen to engage with the local Stormont agriculture department in order to hear how they are preparing for what will undoubtedly be a worrying period of transition for our farmers and wider agrifood industry," he said.
Sir Reg said he understood the department was first contacted about the meeting more than a month ago, yet still refused to put forward a single official.
"Such obvious unwillingness to engage with a range of parliamentarians from right across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland was frankly embarrassing and left many justifiably wondering just how unprepared the local executive and department really are if it meant them snubbing what should have been an informative and productive meeting," he said.