Northern Ireland news

Dismissal of Ulster Unionist claims that NI Protocol could lead to insurance hikes

Trucks leaving Larne Port. Unionists have lobbed for the scrapping of the Northern Ireland Protocol which keeps the north within the EU's customs union for goods. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association

An Ulster Unionist MLA has claimed that the Northern Ireland Protocol could lead to higher insurance costs for drivers - even though the deal only covers goods.

The British government said yesterday that drivers could have faced a £50 insurance hike due to an EU law which requires smaller vehicles including mobility scooters, golf buggies and ride-on lawnmowers to be insured.

The law was never introduced in Britain. It is up to Stormont to decide whether a similar law should be introduced in the north.

READ MORE: Brexit: Northern Ireland hauliers saw revenues fall by up to 30 per cent in January

However, Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs queried if drivers in the north would be "forced to diverge from GB legislation and have to pay additional insurance as a result of the NI Protocol and the virtual Joint Authority has been imposed on Northern Ireland via the undemocratic Joint Committee".

The Protocol keeps Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods. But the Protocol, agreed as part of December's Brexit deal, does not cover financial services, including insurance.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said: "The Department has been in contact with DfT (Department for Transport) officials regarding their proposal not to implement the EU’s Vnuk motor insurance law.

"We are aware of the decision they have made and are currently looking at the preferred approach for the North.

"The NI Protocol does not require us to align with the EU requirements on motor insurance."

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs. Picture by Niall Carson

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole tweeted that Mr Beggs had made a mistake.

"Roy I'm sure this was an honest mistake but this has nothing to do with the Protocol, which in turn has nothing to do with financial services," he wrote.

"Might be worth correcting."

Meanwhile, DUP MLA Pam Cameron has asked the Equality Commission to examine whether vaccinations and paperwork for pets travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland under the Protocol amounts to disability discrimination.

"In the last ten years around 250 puppies have been trained to become assistance dogs in Northern Ireland through the Guide Dog National Breeding Centre in England," she said.

"As a result of the new arrangements this supply has been suspended as pups would in practice be unable to arrive in NI until they are around 15 weeks old – well past the optimal point for their development.

"Current guide dog owners are also disadvantaged in that they would have to undergo this added burden even if only visiting friends or family in GB for a few days becoming returning home.

"This disruption is completely unacceptable."

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