SOUTH Belfast MLA Matthew O’Toole has said that a new scheme to ease the movement of goods post-Brexit falls “far short of what is needed”.

The UK government has provided £200 million in funding under the new Trader Support Service, which is aimed at addressing concerns from businesses that trading regulations could disrupt the flow of goods after Brexit.

SDLP Brexit spokesperson Matthew O’Toole MLA welcomed the scheme, but called for an extension of the Brexit transition period to avoid a “crash out”.

“New funding and the intention to launch a Trader Support Service for movement of goods into Northern Ireland from Britain is welcome in itself,” he said.

“We have consistently called for real, detailed information for local businesses. But today’s announcement falls far short of what businesses and society here needs to prepare for the end of the transition period. Even delivering on the scheme announced today will be difficult in the compressed time schedule the UK government has forced businesses to accept.

“The UK Government has also failed to offer any more detail on how it will ensure unfettered access to the GB market for NI businesses, or even which goods will qualify for unfettered access. And ultimately, all of this disruption is a product of an ideological refusal to countenance extending the transition period in the middle of the biggest public health crisis in a century.

“Northern Ireland never asked for Brexit, and we should never forget that today’s measures and others like them are only necessary because of the fantasies of Tory Brexiters and their willingness to sacrifice people and prosperity on the island of Ireland. The best way to minimise the damage Brexit will inevitably cause is to extend the transition and avoid a crash out at this year.”