Fishing body has been consoling members since Brexit deal

January 12th, 2021 8:00 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Castletownbere trawlers: there are renewed fears for the industry. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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RECENT statements on Brexit from politicians have pushed those involved in fishing ‘over the edge’, an industry body has claimed.

And it added it had spent a huge amount of time since Christmas Eve consoling ‘mentally tortured men and women’ who now fear for their future.

The Brexit fishing deal, concluded on Christmas Eve in Brussels, has been likened to the plantation of Ireland, by Patrick Murphy of the Castletownbere-based Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO).

‘In 16th and 17th century Ireland, land was stripped from the Irish by the English Crown and colonised with settlers from Great Britain. Now Europe has confiscated our seas and our fish, while aided and abetted by our feckless politicians and government agencies,’ said Mr Murphy this week.

‘We in the industry have spent most of our days since Christmas Eve desperately trying to calculate the devastation that is foisted upon our Irish people by the agreement reached between the UK and EU, without a shred of assistance from our Department officials,’ he added.

He criticised Minister Charlie McConalogue’s ‘callous dismissal’ of the permanent loss of 15% of a ‘renewable natural resource’ in fishing this year, rising to 25% over the next five years. ‘This is a national asset which is to be stripped from us, traded and gifted as part of a deal with our nearest neighbour the UK and so-called European partners,’ continued Mr Murphy.

He described the fishing deal as a ‘horrific betrayal of the negotiating mandate the European Union said was in place to protect our rights as EU citizens’, adding: ‘Whoever this deal benefits among our European neighbours. it certainly confers no benefits on Irish fishing communities and inflicts only pain and loss.’

‘Since Christmas Eve, a huge part of our time as leaders in the industry has been spent trying to console and reassure our mentally tortured men and women fishers who fear for their future, and for the futures of their families and often remote communities,’ said a clearly angry Mr Murphy.

Mr Murphy claimed that no account had been taken of the very many local industries dotted along the coast in isolated villages and small towns that are dependent upon the loss in income of €87m per annum.

‘In 2021, will we once again live through repetition of the mistakes of history made between 1976 and 1982?’ he asked.

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