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BREXIT money being saved for a rainy day?



Well Minister, it’s pouring right now in the Irish fishing industry!


Some time ago, as the industry was reeling from the disastrous deal that Ireland got out of BREXIT, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue made much fanfare of the 600 million euro that the Irish fishing and seafood industry was getting in EU / BAR compensation money to ease their fears.


And, as we all now know, the ‘compensation’ to Irish fishermen saw Ireland being the only EU Member State to NOT hand out a single euro in actual cash compensation to fishermen but instead substituted their monthly quota catch with a basic payout in a ‘tie-up’ scheme, paid out a bare minimum to the owners of one third of the Irish demersal fleet to decommission their vessels, and spent some money on repairing small piers and harbours (funds for which should have come out of the Irish and EU Structural Funds kitty and not out of the BAR money).


Throughout this period, Ireland’s marine minister was also the only EU fisheries minister to refuse to use any funds from any source (Irish or EU) to subsidise the rising cost of fuel for the Irish fleet and, to rub salt into this wound for fishermen, he went out of his way to tell the media that other EU nations were not paying their fishermen a fuel subsidy.


Meanwhile it is reported that there is about to be a compensation payout to the Irish pelagic fleet but although this figure is in the millions of euros, it will barely cover the losses of the past two years never mind the billions that will be lost to the pelagic industry over the next decade alone.


And so, while the IFSA have previously voiced concerns over the EU/BAR’s ‘use it or lose it’ rule I.e. that unused BAR compensation money must be returned to the EU in December of this year, its very relevant that we take a closer look at exactly where and how this fund has been utilised so far:


  • The total amount of BAR funding allocated to Ireland is €1.015 billion - 80% paid in three allocation rounds between 2021 and 2023, with the remaining amount (€0.812 billion) to be received in 2025;


  • According to the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan and Reform, the expenditure of allocations thus far is:

Agriculture €271m / Enterprise €15m / Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science €37.3m / Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform €4.4m / Foreign Affairs €2.2m / Tourism Culture Arts Gaeltacht Sports and Media €7.75m / Environment Climate and Communications €24m / Health €5.5m / Justice €21.5m / Transport €0.1m - - - a total spent or allocated by the Irish Government of €389m.


Surely alarm bells will be going off in various sectors of Irish commercial industry with, as it would appear, just €389m of a figure available in excess of €800m means that some €411m (less the €150m that Ireland has transferred back to the ‘RePowerEU’ fund) leaving €261m that will have to be returned to the EU if it remains unused in three months’ time.



And, as far as the Irish fishing industry is concerned, this data raises many questions primarily of which should be what has happened to the €600m that the EU and Irish Government said would be going to the Irish fishing industry as it was the sector that had suffered and lost the most as a result of Brexit?


It is of great concern that the figures issued by the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP and Reform do not even make a single reference to the fishing or marine sector - - therefore indicating that whatever came the way of this suffering industry came as part of the €271m allocated / spent in Agriculture.


Unless the Agriculture & Marine Minister comes clean on the real state of finances and unpaid compensation to the Irish fishing industry as a matter of urgency and admits that Ireland faces having to return millions in unused EU compensation allocations, Irish fishermen and processors are going to be left with in a situation where not only have they lost a massive chunk of revenue but where they have also been swindled out of their EU compensation by mismanagement of this Government, an incompetent Minister and senior officials in many State departments.










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