Donegal Independent TD, Deputy Thomas Pringle told the Dáil that the current penalty points will harm Irish fishing communities
Donegal Independent TD, Deputy Thomas Pringle has told the Dáil today that the current penalty points will harm Irish fishing communities.
Last night, Sinn Féin tabled a Private Members Bill to annul the statutory instrument signed into law at the end of August by An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, acting as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s vote, addressing the Dáil, Deputy Pringle said:
“Many fishermen do not believe they can ever get a fair hearing from the Minister, the Government or the Department of the Marine.
“The Department and the SFPA, are part of the problem. There is no sense among the fishing community that they will get a fair hearing from the Department or the SFPA. That is the crux of the problem when it comes down to it. We will have ongoing problems dealing with fishing control and regulation. We are seeing ongoing problems because the fishermen do not have any faith in the bodies.
“Many problems have been laid out in respect of the penalty points. They are the same problems that arose in 2018 when the previous regime was rejected and before that in turn when the courts struck down the measures. They include the issue of the burden of proof, the assignment of the quota and how the penalty points will pass on, even if a boat is sold and the tonnage is split up among four different boats. The penalty points will go with them as well. That is a real problem. This is hampering the system. The fact that there is no appeals system or a restricted appeals system is a problem as well. That causes ongoing problems for fishermen
“For the first time ever in the history of the State a Government law was rejected in 2018 on this penalty points issue. The rejection was put forward by the Minister and the Fianna Fáil Party. Now, we see that the Fianna Fáil Party has brought it forward and implemented it. It is interesting because I was speaking to several fishermen today on this. They genuinely could not figure out how this could happen. They asked how could Fianna Fáil say one thing and do something else. I pointed out there was an election in between. Fianna Fáil is now in government. Those in Fianna Fáil will say anything in opposition and when they go into government they will do the exact opposite. It has really brought it home to these fishermen that this is actually what happens. I hope it will bring it home to many people that this is what is happening here. The Minister can say whatever he wants in opposition, and when he goes into government, he can then do whatever he wants. He can do the exact opposite and no one bats an eyelid.
“The Government will pass this through the House because it has the numbers. This is despite the Minister’s party colleague acting as if he were in opposition while in government and saying how terrible this is and how much it will impact on the poor fishermen in west Cork. Yet he will vote with the Minister to ensure it is implemented. That is the sad reality of it.”
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