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Percy Pigs face tariffs in Ireland, Marks and Spencer warns

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Marks & Spencer warned its popular Percy Pig sweets could be hit by tariffs if it re-exports the product to Ireland and European Union countries.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said the pink sweets, along with about a third of the products in M&S’s food business, are subject to very complex “rules of origin” regulations that form part of Britain’s trade deal with the EU struck on Christmas Eve.

The rules relate to the composition of individual products and how much of it has been altered in the UK.

Any product that is manufactured in Europe, imported into the UK and then re-distributed to EU countries faces a tariff.

“The best example I can give you of that is Percy Pig,” Rowe told reporters, as M&S updated on Christmas trading.

“Percy Pig is actually manufactured in Germany. If it comes to the UK and we then send it to Ireland, in theory it would have some tax on it,” he said.

M&S warned on Friday the tariffs issue would significantly impact its businesses in Ireland, the Czech Republic and its franchise business in France.

It said it is working to mitigate the problem.

Brexit customs

This comes as Revenue temporarily eased Ireland’s post-Brexit customs arrangements after some trucks were unable to deliver goods from Britain.

Brexit

Revenue eases customs rules as low demand halts fe…

The difficulties prompted Stena Line, the largest Irish Sea ferry operator, to cancel some sailings from Friday.

Meanwhile, parcel courier DPD UK will halt its road delivery services into Ireland until at least Wednesday, it said in a statement on Friday.

The pause will apply to road delivery services to the whole of Europe until January 13th, the courier said.

It said the move was a response to “complex” customs processes post-Brexit that had placed pressure on its turnaround and transit times.

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Ireland

Northern Ireland protocol problems ‘foreseeable’, says Foster

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Problems with the Northern Ireland protocol were predictable and had been foreseen, the First Minister said.

Hauliers have faced difficulties transporting stock to Northern Ireland from Great Britain and pet owners have to organise veterinary procedures for rabies if they want to bring their animals across the Irish Sea.

Northern Ireland is continuing to follow some of the EU’s rules to prevent the establishment of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The DUP leader told the BBC’s Radio 4: “It is most definitely a structural problem in the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We warned about that last year when people voted to bring in the protocol, that there would be difficulties moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The protocol is designed to allow Northern Ireland to follow the EU’s customs rules and has caused delays at the ports because of new declarations and checks.

The DUP has been vociferous in opposition to the protocol’s operation.

Ms Foster said: “The prime minister promised us that there would not be any difficulties, but given the protocol and all the difficulties we have seen on the ground it was very clear that this was going to happen – it was all foreseen.”

She accepted that there would be opportunities for businesses in Northern Ireland to trade freely with the EU and the rest of the UK due to its special status.

She said she was committed to making the best of the current arrangements.

Ireland

Brexit: Protocol gives North ‘significant market a…

Goods are flowing effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the UK government has said.

The end of the Brexit transition period has produced deep-seated structural problems which will not be quick to resolve, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) warned earlier this week.

The UK government must intervene with extra cash before jobs are lost at freight companies, the industry said.

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Ireland

Belmullet GP working remotely while sick with Covid due to lack of cover

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A GP in Belmullet is continuing to work over the phone while sick with Covid because he is unable to find cover.

Dr Fergal Ruane told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the Co Mayo town was shell-shocked with the high levels of Covid-19 in their community. There were 700 cases in the last two weeks with deaths “in the double digits”.

While the rise in cases had been inevitable, the high numbers had been a shock. The community was living in fear, he said. The town was a Covid enclave, in a remote area with a small population. “We’re a remote community on its own.”

Belmullet has the highest incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland. New figures released on Thursday night show the disease spreading in the remote area at a rate more than four times higher than the national average.

Some 700 people from the population of 12,600 had tested positive for the virus in the last fortnight, giving an incidence rate of 5,555. The national incidence rate currently stands at 1,334 cases per 100,000 people.

Covid had devastated the area, Dr Ruane said. The elderly were dying and people in their 50s were ending up very sick, with many in intensive care facing a slow recovery.

Ireland

Mayo village rocked by death of nurse from Covid-1…

The community was under severe strain, one of the two local paramedics was in hospital and a local pharmacy had to open with only three staff, he added.

“I have Covid myself, I can’t get a locum, so I am working on the phone.” He said he had no choice but to work as there was no cover available. The first few days of his illness “were not pleasant”, he said.

Dr Ruane said that in the week after Christmas “from 9am to 8pm the phone did not stop ringing.”

The community was rallying together, as they always did in difficult times, but people from outside the area were not welcome in Belmullet at the moment, he said.

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Special schools could be allowed to reopen on voluntary basis

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The Department of Education is understood to be exploring whether to allow individual special schools to reopen if enough staff are willing to return on a voluntary basis.

However, sources told The Irish Times that there are concerns that such a move would be divisive and antagonise school staff unions.

Most stakeholders feel the fastest pathway towards reopening special education rests on building confidence among staff over the safety measures and seeing a decline in virus transmission rates in the community.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and Fórsa, the union which represents special needs assistants, resumed talks on Thursday with the Department of Education over reopening schools.

All sides have reaffirmed their commitment to the earliest possible resumption of services to school students with additional needs.

It follows the collapse of plans to reopen schools earlier this week amid rancour and acrimony.

Ireland

Nothing rushed about special education reopening s…

While Minister for Education Norma Foley accused unions of rejecting public health advice that schools were safe environments, unions insisted the Government move to reopen schools was premature.

On Thursday, Ministers and the unions were keen to emphasise that they were willing to re-engage and work towards solutions.

INTO general secretary John Boyle said talks with the department were “constructive” and the union hoped to raise the reasonable concerns of members to find a route towards a “safe and orderly reopening”.

Fórsa said it shared the goals of the department in making in-school provision for students with special education needs available as soon as possible.

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