Budgie breeder baffled by Brexit Bureaucracy…

Remember a few years back when Unionists were desperately scrambling around for examples of how the Irish Sea Border negatively affected businesses? The best they could come up with was the guy who could not import some instant noodles. And who could forget Sammy Wilson’s desperate plea over the fate of the humble British banger while ignoring the fact we produce better sausages here?

The story inspired this artist to do a entire exhibition around it:

But now a new threat has emerged that puts the noodles and sausages into the shade. Brexit is affecting the importation of budgies. From Andrew Madden in the BelTel:

A Co Antrim budgie breeder has spoken of the “disastrous” process he now has to follow when bringing the birds into Northern Ireland from Great Britain due to post-Brexit rules.
Cullybackey man Sammy Adams said he has to complete an “enormous” amount of paperwork and get veterinary certificates in both GB and NI, whereas previously the process was very simple.

He hit out at the rules which mean bringing the birds back to NI requires them to be “quarantined for 30 days” and the additional cost as a result.

Under post-Brexit arrangements, in place since January 2021, NI still has to follow some EU rules, including regarding the movement of various animals.

The arrangements regarding the transportation of Brexit budgies and Sammy’s plight was raised in the Assembly this week by TUV leader Jim Allister.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Sammy — who is chair of the County Antrim Budgerigar, Zebar Finch and Foreign Bird Club — explained the situation since the new arrangements came into force.

“Originally you could go over to GB and bring back as many budgies as you wanted and there was never any problem. But, since the [Northern Ireland] Protocol and all the rest of it came in, everything has completely changed,” he said.

Sammy said that bird sheds in England have more than 2,500 stud budgies, so he would go over a couple of times a year to bring some over in order to vary the strain.

“Now the birds have to be quarantined in GB for 30 days before we can bring them over, so we would stick to visiting a few sheds where the birds have already been quarantined for that long,” he said.

“Once we’re over there [in GB] we use this vet up in Lockerbie. He checks the birds’ ring numbers and that they’re all healthy and we get a certificate, which covers a maximum of five budgies and costs £45.”

He said the current arrangements have been “disastrous” for the transportation of budgies from GB to NI.

“Once we have the certificate, we have to give the Port of Belfast 24 hours prior notice before bringing the birds over. Once we arrive at the port we have to get another vet check and another certificate. Before there were none of these checks,” he said.

“The whole process involves so much paperwork that we didn’t have to do before. It’s enormous and such a hassle.

“I don’t mind paying the money, but the thing is I can bring over 100 birds from here no problem, but bringing them back is the problem.”

A few years ago Sammy became the first person from Northern Ireland to judge at the Budgerigar Society’s World Show in Doncaster. “Now if I wanted to take birds over there for a show… again bringing them over is fine, but if I want to bring them back they have to be quarantined for 30 days and all the rest of it,” he said.

Jim Allister told this newspaper that “sometimes it is the non-headline things which matter to affected individuals which best illustrate the absurdity of the Irish Sea border”.

He added: “Whereas, there is a constitutional cause behind the burdens being placed on free movement of budgies, namely, the fact that under the Protocol GB is regarded as a foreign country, it is its practical outworkings which bring home its total unacceptability and the emptiness of the promises of those who claimed it had been removed.”

In response to Mr Allister’s contribution on the topic in the Assembly on Tuesday, SDLP Assembly leader Matthew O’Toole said: “I didn’t expect to hear Mr Allister speak on the topic of budgie smugglers but there are some pleasant surprises which await you in the Assembly.”

Budgies were a common sight in houses when I was a kid, but keeping them has gone out of fashion. To be honest, I think it’s cruel to keep birds in such tiny cages. I personally would like to see the Assembly legislate to prevent the sale of certain live animals as pets.

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