BALLYDEHOB-based fishing industry lobbyist Patrick Murphy (right) is to contest the next European Parliament elections for the Aontú party in the Ireland South constituency.
And he also has his eyes on a Cork County Council seat for the Bantry area.
Announced this week, the move will see the Heir Island native contesting the five-seater constituency against MEPs from three government parties, and independent Mick Wallace.
Murphy, currently chief executive of the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) in Castletownbere, garnered a high profile last year after he took on the Russian navy and secured a deal for them to move their controversial manoeuvres further away from West Cork fishers’ grounds.
Welcoming the selection, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said the party, with Patrick Murphy as its candidate, was aiming to win an Ireland South seat in Europe next year.
He will join Patrick in a public meeting on the cost of living crisis in the Metropole Hotel on MacCurtain St in Cork on Monday February 20th.
This week Patrick, (52) who is married to Rose, with four children, said it was time to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ and fight for the rights of the fishing community.
‘I’ve made up my mind that I will follow a political route – be it Europe, or Cork County Council – if the public deems it appropriate,’ he told The Southern Star.
‘It’s time to put up or shut up. I see what is coming down the tracks from Europe, especially with regards to fishing, and getting a fairer deal for what’s left of our fishers is my main objective now.’
He said he was very lucky that his employers – the IS&WFPO – have agreed to leave his job open for him, should his bid for a European seat fail.
‘They know that I am going to be fighting for them so it makes sense,’ he said.
Having been born in the hospital in Skibbereen, Patrick spent a short time living on Heir Island, and then moved back to the mainland where he completed his education.
From a well-known fishing family, he’s been involved in the production of mussels in Roaringwater Bay for the past 25 years.
‘Coming from a small family farm and growing up in West Cork, I’ve spent my whole life intimately involved in the life of our coastal community,’ Patrick said this week. ‘I’ve coached the Gabriel Rangers Gaelic football team and set up the Ballydehob Youth Centre,’ he added. He is also a member of the local community First Responders and a qualified instructor and also holds a qualification in childcare from Rossa College in Skibbereen.
‘Through my work with the IS&WFPO, I’m acutely aware that the Irish people and specifically, our coastal communities are so dependent on fishing for their livelihood and survival, and that they are being failed at a European Union level. We need politicians to represent us in the European Union who have the strength and courage to stand up to vested interests working in and around the European Council, Commission and Parliament in Brussels while protecting our Irish interests and specifically the interests of our fishing and farming communities.’
Aontú polled 4% in a recent opinion poll for the Sunday Independent, an increase of one point. Party leader Tóibín is a former member of both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, who left the latter in 2018 over his anti-abortion stance. He formed Aontú the following year.
‘We need people who understand how the legislative and lobbying systems operating in Brussels affect the daily lives of ordinary people here in Ireland,’ he said.