Fr John Joe Duffy, a Donegal based Priest has hit out at the Seafood Sector Taskforce claiming it confirms the Government's complete failure

Fr John Joe Duffy, a Donegal based Priest has hit out at the Seafood Sector Taskforce claiming it confirms the Government’s complete failure

Irish Government’s inept response to their shameful, disastrous discarding of Irish Fishing is to scuttle a large percentage of our fleet and make us a 2nd Scapa Flow, writes Fr John Joe Duffy, a Donegal based priest and member of a Burtonport fishing family.

The establishment of the Taskforce into Fisheries post Brexit deal confirms the Government’s complete and total failure to deliver for the Irish Fisheries Sector either during the Brexit Talks or subsequently when commitments were given that burden sharing was going to be pursued at European level. The political charade of the past two months finally ends with a task force being established with a two item agenda, notably to look into the setting up of a tie up scheme in the next two months post April 2021, followed by a decommissioning scheme to be established over the next four months.

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It is bizarre and sad to witness a tie up and decommissioning task force being established at a time when our Fisheries sector has sustained the greatest hit, the most savage cuts in the history of our state, and the entire agenda of that task force is not to revive the sector, or sustain it but to curtail and reduce its capacity. The remit of the Task Force is firstly, to immediately tie up our fleet from as early as late April 2021, and secondly to decommission the pelagic and prawn fleet from mid-2021 onwards. Our Government has surrendered without any fight to the EU for the second time in two months, as a nation we are now to decommission the most modern fleet in Western Europe, a fleet that took years to build up through hard work and dedication, what other nation would even consider such a capitulation in order to  appease our European partners.

Despite the rhetoric of our Government supposedly fighting for the Marine sector, and getting the EU to burden share it is now clear that we are on our own and the price we are paying is the highest of any European State. The reality is, as I stated before we failed to protect Irish Fishing interests in the run up to the agreement being made on December 24th, and in accepting that agreement, at a time when French, Spanish, Danish, German and Dutch fishing interests were clearly protected especially in Herring and Mackerel Fisheries and the North Sea Stocks. We as an island state and the state with the largest maritime sea area of the EU were thrown overboard, discarded because our political leaders were asleep and, in the wheelhouse, and at sea when it came to negotiating.

The imminent future of the Irish pelagic and prawn fleet is “the ship breaking yards of Turkey and China “ , that is not my considered opinion, that is the policy of our Government as recommended by the Taskforce guidelines, what a disaster for any national Government. The Government have lead us onto the rocks of destruction and failure, straight to a modern day Scapa Flow scenario, decommissioning of a modern fleet is the final very sad and heart breaking chapter in the 50 years of lost opportunities since our membership of the EEC/EU, a history that will save it’s harshest criticism for those that were on this Brexit Talks watch, for they have exercised the most destructive influence on the entire sector ever since our European journey commenced in 1973.

Taskforce / Steering group confirms the Government’s complete failure

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