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A Minister for scrutiny


  • Last call for the man who established the ‘Seafood Task Farce



Dictionary description of a ‘Spoofer’ - a deceiver; one who is inordinately insincere



Following a Dáil Éireann Q&A session on fisheries last Thursday where Minister Charlie McConalogue once again avoided directly answering questions from several TDs including independents, Independent Ireland, Aointu, People Before Profit, and Sinn Féin, and later the same day he continued in the same vein by using up time at a meeting in Killybegs that evening in declaring what a great job he was doing as marine minister and generally trying to give the impression that all is well in the fishing industry - indeed going as far as to say that people should be grateful for what he has achieved thus far.


Indeed during the Dail session, not content with disrespecting Aointu Party leader Peadar Tobin who had voiced a perfectly reasonable industry concern regarding the Minister’s rejection of a mackerel deal from Denmark only to later settle for a smaller offer, by replying that he [Tobin] “didn’t know what he was talking about”, McConalogue went on to waste precious allocated Dáil time by going out of his way to NOT answer Independent Ireland Party leader Michael Collins’ question about Icelandic access to Irish waters and, even when pressed for a simple ‘yes or no’ by Mr Collins, McConalogue went on to talk about EU member states’ votes on the issue and while initially saying that he was fighting Ireland’s case against any such deal, then mumbled that he was trying “to get Ireland the best deal possible out of this” - - leaving people with no option other than to believe this deal has, as many already suspect, already been done.


And so after a day of deluded Donald Trump style self praise about all the (EU BAR) money he’s allocated to various ports such as Castletownbere and Killybegs (which will be of little future use to Ireland with reduced quotas and a fleet slashed by one third), and of attempting to mislead the public through his ‘tweet’ on Thursday night proclaiming his “successful meeting in Killybegs” but failing to mention that at the first voice of concern raised by a fisherman at this meeting, McConalogue declared “if you don’t like what you’re hearing then you’re free to leave”…. at which point over two-thirds of the 100-odd people in attendance cleared the room in protest.


In constantly avoiding facing up to the issues about the real status of a fishing industry which everyone can see is collapsing under his responsibility, it is ironic then that the very next day, apparently unaware that many leading figures in the industry had begun calling on Government for his dismissal, McConalogue released a ‘Donegal Live’ interview in which he dismissed ongoing social media and website posts that voice concern about the direction of Ireland’s fishing and seafood industry as “not standing up to scrutiny” and he stated “certain people don't want to be exposed and they are afraid because they won't stand up to scrutiny”.


Personally I can’t speak for everyone who has ever made social media comments about McConalogue’s inept and dreadful management of the fishing industry but, as I suspect his comments may be intended to include the IFSA, I can say that far from “being afraid”, my name is on every single article I write and my email address and phone number are a matter of public record and the option to respond is always there - - - and, as for not wanting to be exposed, I previously publically put my comments face to face to this minister at an open meeting in Killybegs last year, (which was also attended by Pearse Doherty SF & Padraig MacLoughlainn SF and FG MEP Colm Markey) and, as usual, the Minister had no direct answer to the questions put to him, sat there like a scolded red-faced schoolboy, and responded only by churning out his same old press release about his Seafood ‘Taskfarce’.


Scrutiny

Since McConalogue seems fond of the word ‘scrutiny’ I believe it’s only fair that we should scrutinise a sample of the performance of a Marine Minister who is apparently incapable of telling the truth:


  • “We fought tooth and nail for the Irish fishing industry during BREXIT….”;

  • “Everyone is invited to give their opinion in the Virtual Town Hall Zoom meetings” - (said just before several selected people had their microphones muted at each meeting so they couldn’t ask any awkward questions);

  • “Fleet decommissioning is not one the issues on the agenda for the Seafood Taskforce” (- said directly by the Minister in response to a question by the IFSA at a Virtual Town Hall zoom meeting);

  • “We are not in any negotiations with Norway for access to Irish waters….”

  • “I established a Seafood Task Force group to look at the best way forward for the industry….” (- soon to be renamed a ‘task farce’ by the industry as McConalogue intentionally assigned it to have less than one-third representation from the actual fishing sector out of the total steering group, so as to ensure the industry could be outvoted at every turn);

  • “The fishing industry representatives on the Seafood Taskforce requested a fleet decommissioning scheme” (- we’d all like to see the minutes of that particular meeting as the fishing industry representatives remain adamant that they strongly objected to the decommissioning proposal);

  • “I’m not giving the Irish fishing fleet fuel relief subsidy as no other EU member state is doing so…” - said to RTÉ two years ago at the same time that Denmark, Spain, France and others had already been availing of this EU fuel scheme for several months - - France continues to employ an EU fuel subsidy scheme to their fishermen to this very day);

  • “Ireland has never had any claims to Rockall…” (in response to a Parliamentary Question by Padraig MacLoughlainn TD, February 2022);

  • “I have made clear my assessment that there will be a comprehensive review of the Common Fisheries Policy” - (this statement made several times to Irish media despite everyone in the industry knowing that the EU Fisheries Commissioner had issued a clear notice (during his official visit to Ireland) that the EU Commission had no intention of reviewing the CFP at any time in the near future);

  • “I always work closely with stakeholders and industry representatives at every stage” - (this so incorrect that as recently as last December some industry representatives had to bypass the minister’s office and go direct to the EU Commission to find out the details of the proposed Danish mackerel deal as the minister would not discuss it with them or keep them informed);

  • And finally…. “We are not currently in any negotiations to give Iceland access to Irish waters ….” (- this said despite his poster for the meeting in Killybegs proclaiming that the agenda included an “update on fisheries negotiations” at a time when Ireland is not officially involved in any EU/Third Country other negotiations aside from the Iceland proposal).


And so, as for scrutiny, all I can say is that I’m not the one the latest joke in the coastal communities is about:


‘How do you know when the Marine Minister is lying? His lips are moving…..’




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