Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said Irish officials are working with European Commission representatives to try to avoid a potential two-way ban on a wide range of foods moving between Great Britain and the island of Ireland from 1 January.

EU and UK officials are in last-minute talks to avoid a potential two-way ban on a wide range of foods including sausages, mince and prepared meals moving between Great Britain and the island of Ireland next year.

Under EU rules, there are restrictions of certain meat products from outside the European Union.

Such products would therefore be prohibited from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, as it will still be operating EU food safety rules from 1 January under the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

However, the UK has indicated it will, in turn, apply reciprocal restrictions on such foods coming from Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister McConalogue said that the issue emerged in recent weeks and is "concerning" and "a reflection of the many issues Brexit is raising".

He said the matter emphasises the importance of a trade deal being finalised promptly and significant work is needed in the weeks ahead to ensure trade is "as efficient and smooth as possible" post-Brexit.

The minister said that the Irish team will work hard to try to resolve this situation.

Mr McConalogue said documentation will need to be put in place for all exports going to the UK from 1 January and this will vary across different products.

He said each company needs to examine what will be required from them and the completion of a good trade deal is critical, as without this, extra tariffs will apply.

Last-minute Brexit talks to prevent UK-Ireland meat product ban
Latest Brexit stories

The minister said fishing is one of the outstanding issues and is a difficult and challenging one. 

He said nothing has been accepted in relation to the outcome but the importance of fishing to Ireland has been emphasised. 

He added that the industry is worth over €1bn to the economy and employs 15,000 people domestically, saying Ireland wants to protect quota shares in any way it can.