Executive has no plans in place for food and goods shortages, warns Sugden
Independent MLA Claire Sugden has expressed concern that warnings of food and goods shortages in Northern Ireland have not been planned for by the Executive , saying the plan seems to be ‘wait and see’.
The East Londonderry representative said contingency plans needed to be developed well in advance of any shortages hitting shelves as a result of a variety of factors.
“For many months I have been warning that, due to a perfect storm of pressures, the availability of some food and goods could become affected here,” Ms Sugden said.
“While this is far from certain, it is vital to have a plan in place rather than to react to shortages as they appear – by then it will be too late.
“We have seen the impact of the pandemic on global supply chains, issues around Brexit and the Protocol, a shortage of HGV drivers and other key workers, and rising global costs. These have existed for many months now – they are not new or surprising factors, and they have not gone away.
“In September I asked the Minister for the Economy for his assessment of the potential for food and goods shortages. More than four months later I received a response – four months during which contingency plans could, and should, have been made.
“Instead, as opposed to setting out the measures that had, or would be, put in place, his response was that the Executive ‘will do all we can to support businesses as they grapple with the global challenges’.
“He acknowledges there is a risk, but the ‘plan’ seems to be to wait and see what happens. Obviously this is no plan at all.”
Some of the related issues fell under the remit of Westminster, or even international bodies, Ms Sugden said. The Executive did, however, have a responsibility to liaise with the UK Government, trade bodies and internationally, to resolve those issues that directly affected people in Northern Ireland.
“The Executive needs to use its influence to try to tackle these issues where they arise,” she continued.
“But the various departments also need to do everything they can within their own remit to ensure any negative impacts for people here are mitigated.
“It seems that in this case – as in many others – this is not being done.”