NORTHERN Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster has urged Boris Johnson to replace the protocol covering the province.

It follows the European Union’s u-turn over the threat to impose vaccine controls at the Republic of Ireland border with Northern Ireland.

News of the EU back-track emerged late on Friday night when it was confirmed it would not override the part of the Brexit deal covering Northern Ireland after widespread condemnation of the move as part of its export controls on coronavirus vaccines.

Earlier on Friday Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of his “grave concerns” over Brussels' threat to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to stop the unimpeded flow of jabs from European countries into the region.

An EU source later conceded it had been a, “misjudgement” and confirmed it would not be triggering the safeguard clause.

Irish premier Micheal Martin, who joined Mr Johnson in urging the commission to re-think its threats to trigger the article, welcomed the back track.

His Northern Irish counterpart told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, on Saturday, that Brussels’ threat was, “an absolutely incredible act of hostility towards those of us in Northern Ireland”.

Ms Foster said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful and I have to say the Prime Minister now needs to act very quickly to deal with the real trade flows that are being disrupted between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The First Minister reiterated calls for Mr Johnson to enact Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol over the shortage of some food.

“We’ve been asking the PM to deal with the flow problems and, indeed since January 1, we’ve been trying to manage along with the Government the many, many difficulties that have arisen between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and there are actions he could take immediately.

“There is great unrest and great tension within the community here in Northern Ireland so this protocol that was meant to bring about peace and harmony in Northern Ireland is doing quite the reverse.

“The protocol is unworkable, let’s be very clear about that, and we need to see it replaced because otherwise there is going to be real difficulties here in Northern Ireland.”

Pressed whether that would be in breach of an international treaty, she said: “Well it didn’t seem to bother the European Union yesterday when they breached the treaty in terms of their embarrassment around their vaccine procurement.”

Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith accused Brussels of an “almost Trumpian act” by threatening to override part of Northern Ireland Protocol under its coronavirus vaccine controls.

The Tory MP told the Today programme it had been an EU “cock-up”, adding: “Years have been spent trying to ensure goods will flow freely and there will be no hard border and last night the EU pulled the emergency cord without following any of the process that are in the protocol if one side wants to suspend it.

“And they did that, in my view, without anywhere near the understanding of the Good Friday Agreement, of the sensitivity of the situation in Northern Ireland, and it was an almost Trumpian act.

“The relationships are complex, we need to spend much, much more time, much, much more money and much, much more resources in getting this relationship right.”