Kosher food in Belfast ‘limited’ but no one is ‘starving’, says community leader
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Kosher food in Belfast ‘limited’ but no one is ‘starving’, says community leader

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis warned on Sky News on Sunday that the Belfast Jewish community can't "technically practice their religion" because of post-Brexit protocol

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

(left to right) Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner, Equality Commission for NI, Michael Black, Chair of the Belfast Jewish Community, and Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner of the NIHRC. The UK Government and EU have been urged to find an "urgent solution" over the shortages of kosher food in Northern Ireland. Issue date: Thursday December 16, 2021.
(left to right) Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner, Equality Commission for NI, Michael Black, Chair of the Belfast Jewish Community, and Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner of the NIHRC. The UK Government and EU have been urged to find an "urgent solution" over the shortages of kosher food in Northern Ireland. Issue date: Thursday December 16, 2021.

Kosher food supplies in Belfast, Northern Ireland, are “limited”, but the local community are not “starving” under the post-Brexit Protocol, a communal leader has confirmed.

Michael Black, chair of the Belfast Jewish Community, said a “willing supplier” and a “willing carrier”, along with support from the UK government, was allowing kosher food to reach the small observant population in the city.

But he admitted to Jewish News:”Because of our current situation I would doubt that any observant Jew would move here long term which makes survival as a community that more difficult.”

Black assessment of Belfast’s kosher food situation came one day after Government minister Brandon Lewis suggested to Sky News that Northen Ireland’s Jewish community can’t “technically practice their religion” because of the Protocol.

Last July Lewis, the Northern Ireland minister also said he feared for the future of the community as a result of the Protocol.

On Monday, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons.

The Board of Deputies had been amongst the communal organisations to raise concerns over the issue of kosher food supplies in Belfast.

Other community sources point to the fact that Belfast’s Jewish community had declined to around 75 people prior to any issues caused by Brexit.

There has not been a kosher butcher in the UK jurisdiction for many years, so supplies are sourced from England.

The community peaked in numbers during the 1950s with around 1500 Jewish people living in the city.

In a report on the kosher food crisis published by Jewish News in February, Professor Katy Hayward, a Queen’s University Belfast academic and senior fellow with the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, acknowledges there was a problem but said there are solutions.

“It is happening because they need to now operate the rules of the protocol, of goods coming into NI from GB, as if they were a third country coming into the EU, so there is an awful lot of paperwork associated with that. Mostly with agri-food.

“There is some relief available, but it only really makes sense for larger suppliers. It is much more difficult for smaller businesses.”

Hayward said the logical alternative from the EU perspective would be to source the meat from the Republic of Ireland. “There would be no problem there at all. How viable that is, is the next question.”

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