NI protocol: EU won’t stop Ulster getting best sausages says butcher

Meat lovers in Northern Ireland have been reminded that there’s plenty of award-winning produce on our own doorstep as more repercussions of the NI protocol look set to bite.

The meat counter at McCartney's, Moira
The meat counter at McCartney's, Moira

The latest debate between EU and UK officials is over the importing of chilled meat from Great Britain to the Province.

A ban will come into force if the UK and EU cannot agree new regulatory standards before July 1.

Environment Secretary George Eustice described it as “nonsensical”.

The McCartney family - Joan, Gordon, George, Sarah, Judith

Meanwhile in Co Down, it’s business as usual for McCartney’s butchery and delicatessen, just as it has been for nearly 150 years.

Sarah Price and her sister Judith are the sixth generation of the McCartney family to run the shop, which has gone a long way to putting the village of Moira on the map.

She said: “Some butchers may buy in extras from outside Northern Ireland – things like Spanish pork – but it’s always been our ethos to get all our meats from local producers and manufacturers in Northern Ireland.

“We don’t bring any meat in from outside of the local area.

McCartney's smokey bacon sausages

“There are lot of companies out there, once we find a reliable supplier we tend to stick with them.

“We produce all our own sausages, we’ve a team of butchers here who do that.”

Commenting on the implications of the NI protocol Sarah said: “It’s hard to know how a ban on chilled meats coming into Northern Ireland would affect the industry.

“Anything that restricts movement of goods makes life difficult.

McCartney's, Moira

“Looking at it positively, one good thing would be that it pushes people towards local products.”

While they’re not in a stew of the importation of chilled meats, Sarah said their cheese counter could be nibbled at by the protocol.

There are nearly 100 types of cheese stocked in the shop.

Sarah said: “We would have quite a large section of artisan cheese, that is a problem because although there is a lot of local producers which we already use, there’s a lot of cheeses that are only produced in Great Britain therefore we’ll have a lot of difficulties getting them across.”

McCartney’s are no strangers to winning awards, though the past few years there haven’t been as many competitions.

One of their most recent wins was a Great Taste Award for their corned beef and they’ve also launched a gin and tonic sausage which sparked a lot of interest.

During lockdown, with more people being at home, Sarah said the shop had experienced increased sales: “There’s definitely been a resurgence in homecooking which will hopefully continue for years and years to come.”

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