THERE were some raised eyebrows around the fishing communities in West Cork last week when details of a meeting between Agriculture Minister and local industry interests were released by his Department – before the meeting even took place!
Patrick Murphy of Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation – who was meeting with Minister McConalogue in Castletownbere – described the situation as ‘comedy gold’.
‘The event was reported in the media many hours before it actually took place – with a press release giving such a glowing report of our Minister’s time spent in Union Hall and Castletownbere, and our message so clearly given to such receptive ears,’ said Mr Murphy.
In reality, Minister McConalogue was met with a large group of fishers’ families in Castletownbere, who had been waiting in the rain for four hours to voice their concerns for the future of an industry which they believe is now on its knees. They also pointed out that if the fishing industry dies, many local rural communities, several of them in West Cork, will die along with it.
‘The desperation of the families, and their dire situation, was clearly outlined to the Minister,’ said Mr Murphy. After listening to their concerns, the Minister then met with lobby groups, who had a total of 22 items on the agenda.
‘This was an increase of 15 from the one we handed to the Minister in Dublin,’ said Mr Murphy.
‘The meeting lasted almost two hours. The outcome is yet to be known but the urgency was understood. Promises were uttered once again, but will they finally be kept?’ he asked.
The press release, which was issued a day ahead of the Minister’s visit, with an embargo for hours before the meeting, noted that the Minister ‘had signed’ a €13m contract in Castletownbere for the final phase of an overall €33m, 216m-long quay development project and associated works on Dinish Island.