The UK Government and EU have been urged to find an “urgent solution” over the shortages of kosher food in Northern Ireland.
A prominent member of the Jewish community in the region has warned that cupboards are “nearly bare” due to trade restrictions under the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have joined the call for the shortages of kosher food to be addressed.
The shortages have been attributed to “practical difficulties of finding suppliers from Great Britain to undertake the complicated process of delivering these supplies to Northern Ireland”.
The protocol has led to additional checks on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain in a bid to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
“Due to the new barriers, our cupboards are nearly bare of kosher foods,” he said.
“Our local community is facing enormous difficulties in the practice of our faith.
“If these shortages are not addressed soon, we will face real difficulty daily as well as in celebrating major events in our religious calendar such as the Jewish Passover in April.
“Ultimately these shortages may impact on the viability of our historic community in Belfast.
“We have had many promises, but we need action and would urge all parties to get involved to work constructively and quickly to find a solution.”
In a joint statement Geraldine McGahey, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, and Alyson Kilpatrick, chief commissioner of NIHRC, said minority faith groups must not be overlooked.
“It is really important that minority groups such as our local Jewish community are protected in post-Brexit Northern Ireland. The commissions have raised this matter with the House of Lords Sub Committee on the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol,” they said.
“Under Article 2 of the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol, the UK Government has committed to maintaining certain equality and human rights after Brexit.
“Both commissions have been given additional powers and responsibilities to ensure that the UK Government upholds this commitment and also have a role in considering and assessing the impact of Brexit on our faith-based communities.
“We will continue to monitor closely the negotiations in relation to the export of chilled meats from GB to NI and assess the potential impact on religious groups and their ability to access food and ritual products.
“As small communities, minority faith groups must not be overlooked in Northern Ireland.
“Failure to deal with this issue will have a serious detrimental effect on the Jewish community. It is important that the EU and the UK Government find a solution to this issue as soon as is practicable.”