British Jewish leaders on Tuesday warned that the very survival of Belfast’s 150-year-old Jewish community was in jeopardy, citing new trade rules linked to the UK’s departure from the EU that could cut food supply Kosher from mainland Britain. in Northern Ireland.
A delegation including British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Michael Black, Head of the Jewish Community of Belfast, met in London with British Government Secretary for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis to defend the case.
A statement from the British Jews’ Council of Deputies following the meeting noted that while the flow of kosher food had been maintained under the interim trade deals between Britain and the EU after Brexit, a new agreement to be introduced in September threatens the supply chain. .
Known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, its implementation means that a range of goods destined for Northern Ireland from the continent will be subject to inspections within the UK itself. The purpose of the new arrangement is to preserve the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended the war in Northern Ireland between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and British forces – and which aims to avoid a physical border the six counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south.
British Jews fear that under the new arrangement the transport of kosher food and other Jewish items to Northern Ireland will be prevented. Under EU food safety rules, chilled meat products are not allowed to enter the EU single market from third countries such as the UK.
“Once kosher food and religious artifacts can no longer be provided, the community is at risk of collapsing,” the Council of Deputies statement said.
Following the meeting with the Secretary of Northern Ireland, Chief Rabbi Mirvis tweeted his gratitude for the commitment “to urgently work with his EU counterparts to resolve the Protocol issues preventing the precious Jewish community in Northern Ireland to access the provision of kosher food ”.
The protocol has been heavily criticized by pro-British unionist political parties in Northern Ireland, who complain that the desire to avoid a physical border in Ireland has created another border between two sovereign parts of the United Kingdom in the midst of the Irish Sea.
Ironically, concerns over the kosher food supply on Tuesday arose after a debate last week over a distinctly non-kosher item – pork sausages – which is a staple in local cuisine. Under the same EU food safety rules impacting kosher products, the transport of chilled non-kosher meats from the UK to Northern Ireland will also be halted from September.