Ireland: Leo Varadkar on ‘tensions’ with Scotland over Rockall
Under the terms of the Brexit agreement, EU fleets will have to give back 25 percent of fish caught in UK waters. Giving evidence to the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee on Friday, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that after meeting fishing groups, he will set up a taskforce to seek recommendations on how to support the sector.
However, his words failed to reassure concerned industry chiefs.
John Lynch, chairman of the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation, said the loss of £37million (€42 million euro) has been “gifted” to the UK.
He added: “The loses due to Brexit will ensure a large portion of the Irish fishing fleet will be unviable for the future and these figures do not include the negative effects of these losses on all fishing-related ancillary industries.”
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John Ward, of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO), said they want the issues in the “terrible Brexit deal” resolved.
He added: “We are very much a junior partner in a huge department.”
He said that the marine sector was on the coattails of the agriculture department.
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He continued: “We will never get the representation that we require.”
Sean O’Donoghue, chief executive of Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO), which had been broadly supportive of the Irish Government’s approach prior to the deal being struck, nevertheless said some issues needed immediate action.
He said: “We welcome the taskforce, but there are two things I am concerned about.
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“Number one, that it becomes a talking shop, and secondly that it delays us from the immediate action that we need.
“We need to immediately take up the burden-sharing and it can’t be waiting for a taskforce to decide on something like that.”
Mr McConalogue admitted Ireland would see a greater impact compared with other EU member states.
He said: “That is a situation I am certainly not happy with, and one that we never wanted or fought for.
“Although we knew we were very much the nation that was most endangered from a fishing point of view because, by far, compared to other EU members, we share more of our species with the UK, and the species that are important to us are the species that are most important to the UK as well.
“The outcome is not a fair reflection of burden-sharing, it does put more weight and impact on our fishing sector.”
Independent TD Thomas Pringle said: “This is a very serious situation for the fishing industry and it’s debatable how it can survive.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk earlier this month, Patrick Murphy, the CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFPO) said resentment was building against the coalition government led by Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, in which his predecessor, and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar is also a minister.
Mr Murphy said: ”What is different for our politicians now is that the Parties constituting our Coalition Government can no longer say: ‘Oh no, it wasn’t us, it was the other party!’ as they accompany one another in their turning their backs on Ireland’s Coastal Communities.
“As for Ireland’s relationship with the EU following its decision to betray Ireland’s loyalty to the European Union, we believe this must cause some not inconsiderable embarrassment to our political classes who told our Irish people time and time again that the maintaining of unity in the Brexit trade and fisheries negotiations was key.”
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