Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, has told his officials to stop Irish Sea border checks from midnight.
The former DUP leader said he had taken legal advice which meant he could order the checks to stop without the approval of the Northern Ireland Executive.
His party are opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which had been agreed by the EU and the UK in order to ensure the free movement of trade across the Irish border after Brexit.
However, unionists, who believe the arrangements are damaging to Northern Ireland’s position within the UK, have been critical.
Currently, checks on goods from Great Britain must take place at Northern Ireland's ports to make sure they comply with EU laws.
However, Mr Poots believes the checks are unlawful and should not continue without the Executive’s approval.
Today, Mr Poots said legal advice he had received confirmed that the implementation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks required approval from the Stormont Executive.
This meant he was able to direct the checks to cease, and that at a result a formal instruction had been issued to DAERA’ss permanent secretary to halt all checks not in place on December 31, 2020 as of midnight tonight.