Government incomptence over Brexit is costing the Irish fishing industry and its communities claims Deputy Michael Collins. Photo: Sean McConville
Government incompetence is costing the of the Irish fishing industry says Independent TD, Michael Collins as lays down some home truths to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Yesterday, at the Leader’s questions, Deputy Collins did not hold back in telling Martin that their ignorance and incompetence on the fisheries sector during the Brexit negotiations are set to destroy the industry and wipe out coastal communities all along the Irish seaboard.
“New evidence in replies from a series of parliamentary questions confirmed that your government blindly supported the EU mandate in respect of the Brexit negotiations. In doing so he betrayed not only the sector and coastal communities, but the entire country.”
“Taoiseach, this provides infuriating confirmation, it means the Irish fishing a huge price for our Government and Ministers opting to tow the Brussels in these Brexit negotiations,” said the Deputy.
He went onto attack what he called “shocking and lack of engagement” by the Government and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine during the run up to Brexit, where at the first AGRIFISH Council on 24 September with the Minister opted to engage in trilateral talks with France, Denmark and the Netherlands instead of taking a meeting with the Commission where Irish fisheries concerns could have been raised in direct engagement.
Deputy Collins also accused the Minister of failing to raise the Irish fisheries sectors concerns again at the 2nd AGRIFISH Council meeting on 16 November.
“What had been discussed at such meetings?” asked the Deputy.
He cited Minister McConalogue for his actions saying that where the Minister should have been acting in the interest of his own country, he instead was acting in the interest of other Member States.
“This new information of your Minister and the Government’s activities of protecting Irish fishermen’s rights illustrate the complete blindness to which you Taoiseach and the Ministers entrusted the EU negotiators with. It also clearly demonstrates that the Minister of the Government strategically and deliberately chose not to stand up for Irish fishing interests instead he sought to praise from the Brussels elite at the time and Irish fishermen and women were depending solely on the Irish government to protect their interests.”
Deputy Collins also accused the Government of planning to set-out their stall to decommission the Irish fleet rather than demanding more fishing rights in their own waters.
He said, “Your only solution is decommissioning which will lead to numerous jobs,” and asked the Taoiseach when he or Minister McConalogue isn’t seeking quota for stocks like Bluefin Tuna when other European countries are getting increased in theirs.
The Taoiseach replied that he has written to the Commission seeking more fishing opportunities for the Irish fleet.
Deputy Collins also accused the Taoiseach of back tracking on his suggestion of a fisheries taskforce which he put forward in November last year and suggested that the establishment of the current taskforce may be too late.
The full exchange can be seen below.
by Oliver McBride