CASTLETOWNBERE has got one of the biggest shares of a €37.3m capital injection into the country’s six fishery harbour centres.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said the money will enable completion of the major Castletownbere development project which it has been undertaking for the last four years and a total of €5.14m has been allocated to the Beara port.
This money is divided between a number of projects taking place at Dinish island beside the town, including €2.5m for ‘harbour support facilities’ and a further €800,000 for the expansion of Dinish wharf.
Other works included in the €5m-plus cash injection are €50,000 for a ‘small craft harbour’ at Dinish and €100,000 for an upgrade to public lighting.
The programme also supports maintenance at Cape Clear, a Department statement added.
While the money was welcomed by the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, the value of spending so much money on an industry which is currently taking part in a boats decommissioning scheme, was queried by chief executive Patrick Murphy.
‘It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious. The development at Dinish will be mainly for foreign landings now,’ he said.
‘Any community should be welcoming these kind of monies, but I wonder what kind of small craft harbour will be constructed for €50,000?’ he asked.
‘We are very grateful to the media for highlighting what has been happening with the decommissioning scheme, because we now have an appeals process that has meant the offers to fishers have been amended, and improved. But ironically, that means that even more are likely to leave now, and it will propel the speed at which they are leaving.’
It has been estimated that up to 19 boats will leave Castletownbere’s fishing fleet over the coming months.
Mr Murphy said that people didn’t believe the scale of what was about to happen until they started to see the boats ‘leaving the harbour’.
‘This cash injection is a little bit too late because it is only when the 19 boats are gone that people will realise what they have lost.’
He added: ‘If the same number of jobs was lost in, let’s say, a pharmaceutical firm in the town, people and politicians would be jumping up and down saying the town will be devastated. But because it is the fishing industry, they will wait until it’s gone before making a fuss.’