Stormont instructed to start work on Brexit port checkpoints
A Stormont department has been instructed to start work on check points at Northern Ireland's sea ports without delay.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots previously stated that he had "no intention of facilitating infrastructure at Northern Ireland ports".
The Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal, will see the north continue to enforce the EU's customs rules and follow its rules on product standards.
When the transition period ends on December 31, some checks will be needed on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
Tenders for the work at a number of sea ports have been made public, with bids to be made by later this month.
The BBC has reported that Environment Secretary George Eustice has written to Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) officials pressing action on the facilities in accordance with the NI Protocol.
In a statement, DAERA said the minister had "sought clarity on a range of issues in order to minimise the impact or any additional costs on Northern Ireland businesses and taxpayers".
"The UK government have now clarified what is required and officials are progressing work to ensure DAERA implements what is needed to meet those requirements," the statement reads.
"There is a binding international agreement passed by Westminster to implement the Northern Ireland protocol.
"Approved points of entry are a legal requirement for the purposes of protecting public health, securing safe food supply and protecting animal and plant health."
TUV leader Jim Allister queried the move, pointing out Mr Poots' previous statements.
"In March Edwin Poots assured me in response to a written question that he had 'no intention of facilitating infrastructure at Northern Ireland ports'. Yet now the tender for building border control posts has been published via the CCS framework," he said.
"Bids have to be in by the September 25 and award will be made within a week of that.
"Far from the Agriculture Minister resisting the imposition of a border he is going about installing one in double quick time."