THE British government has applied to create border control posts at the north's ports despite resistance from a DUP Stormont minister.
The application to the EU comes just days after it was reported that Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots wrote to his British government counterpart saying he would not be cooperating with a full application for the border posts until he received greater clarity about how controls would operate.
The DUP minister has been accused by SDLP Brexit spokesman Matthew O'Toole of "dragging his feet".
In a letter from to environment and rural affairs secretary George Eustice, Mr Poots acknowledged there is a legal responsibility to create the posts but said he was unable to "present a full application due to the lack of certainty around a number of key areas including the level of checks required".
The border control posts are for checks on animals and food arriving in the EU single market.
After the Brexit transition period ends on January 1, Northern Ireland will stay in the EU single market and some goods entering the region will need checked.
A British government spokesman said the Northern Ireland Protocol would mean the "limited expansion of facilities at some existing entry points" where there are already biosecurity checks on animals and plants.
"We are continuing to work closely with the executive on proposals to minimise requirements on the movement of food and agricultural products, in line with the approach we set out in our May command paper," he said.
But Mr O'Toole said there was a lack of clarity what relevant executive ministers are doing to deliver the post-Brexit protocol.
"The delayed submission by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is concerning on a number of levels – not least because the agriculture minister appears to be dragging his feet on meeting his legal obligations," the South Belfast MLA said.
"While no one should be in any doubt that the UK government bears ultimate responsibility for the mess of Brexit, the two big parties are locked in a culture of silence on this issue that risks livelihoods."
Mr Poots's department did not comment on the British government's application.