Fears have been voiced that English-grown potatoes will be effectively off the menu in Northern Ireland within days, unless a specific deal on tubers is hammered out by the UK government, writes Adam Kula in News Letter today.
According to Kula, long-time potato merchant Brendan Donnelly made the comments as the end of the transition period next Friday looms – and he was backed up by DUP farming figure William Irwin, who echoed the same worries about a “crazy” de facto blockade on GB potatoes.
Both men said the issue is particularly important for traditional fish-and-chip shops, because the best potatoes to fry by far are not Irish-grown ones, but ones from warmer climes such as East Anglia.
But each of them voiced concern that potatoes which have not been scrubbed clean and have traces of earth on them will fall foul of the EU standards which NI must adhere to, in order to avoid cross-border trade disruption with the Republic of Ireland.
Brendan Donnelly pointed out that the island of Ireland imports 60,000 tonnes of potatoes like Maris Pipers and Marquis from Great Britain each year – adding chip shops will just not be able to find similar quality frying spuds either in Ireland or EU suppliers like the Dutch.
“Most of the chip ships in Northern Ireland must fry English potatoes because they’re drier – I’m told maybe 90% of chip shops fry English potatoes,” he said – adding that it is “ridiculous” to inhibit the trade in such varieties.
Source: News Letter. Read the full article here
Photo: A lorry belonging to Brendan Donnelly’s firm delivering to a greengrocer’s shop in north Belfast recently | News Letter
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