THE announcement of a $200 million beverage can plant on the outskirts of North Belfast shows the benefits of the Protocol, SDLP Brexit and Economy spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said.

Ardagh Metal Packaging's can-making facility should be operational at Global Point in Newtownabbey by 2023.

The company said that the factory will "service the growing needs of AMP's beverage customers in Ireland, the UK and Europe".

Matthew O’Toole, welcomed the investment.

“Despite the hysteria and distortion from the UK Government and elements of unionism, the clear economic benefits of the Protocol are being seen," said the South Belfast MLA.

"Ardagh’s announcement is one of the most significant manufacturing commitments to Belfast in many years – and it is clear that the unique access to both UK and European markets was part of the appeal.

“This comes after data showing the huge increase in north-south trade to the benefit of the northern economy. Meanwhile, inflation here remains lower than in Britain. The Protocol was no one’s first choice, and we all want to see easements on the movement of goods from Britain. But the distortion and hysteria cannot mask the economic advantage we now have. 

“If the UK Government’s intransigence and Brexit ideology costs Northern Ireland economic advantage and potential jobs, it will be unforgivable. They should quickly get on with agreement with the EU on making our arrangements work to everyone’s advantage.”

The latest investment was announced as EU and UK officials met in Brussels in the latest round of talks over the Protocol.