Today’s fishing industry crisis public meeting was attended by around 300 people who heard presentations from the Killybegs Steviedores Ltd., IFSA, IFPEA, IFPO, KFO and KHDG, and also in attendance was Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD SF, Pearse Doherty TD SF, EURO MEP Colm Markey and late arrival Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue.
The following statement is the IFSA’s contribution to the meeting:
As Chairman of the Irish Fishing and Seafood Alliance I would it like to be noted that the following statement is my opinion and not necessarily that of any other group or organisation in attendance here today - however, having said that, I make absolutely no apology to anyone who may take offence as these are the words that need to be spoken and now is the time to speak them.
1. The events of the past week in Killybegs, and again this very morning, have not only been an embarrassment to the nation of Ireland in the context of being an EU Member State but has once again exposed the political and administrative management of Ireland’s fishing sector as being nothing more than a corrupt and strategically-planned crusade against this industry.
To those who continue to advocate the ‘softly softly’ approach when dealing with our officials, I respond by saying that this industry has patiently submitted to this for the past 20 years and, in return, has achieved absolutely nothing — not one fisherman is a euro better off or a single fish of quota better off than he was two decades ago.
Indeed, by the time I finish speaking here today, I’m sure no one will be left in any doubt as to my firm belief that this ‘softly softly’ attitude has been a mindset fed down through the system to encourage fear within the industry - an industry that has been forced to stand idly by while abuse of power continues to be inflicted upon them.
Reportedly one person who agrees with the ‘don’t rock the boat’ mantra recently said that Killybegs “should not bite the hand that feeds” - well perhaps that person has and is being well fed but the rest of Killybegs and the fishing industry nationwide are slowly being starved to death.
For too long this industry has suffered the ‘elephant in the room’ with regards who actually calls the shots in the commercial fishing sector but always carefully planned distractions are put in place to draw attention towards fall guys such as a marine minister who in reality has no power - it is time then that the industry faces up to where the real problems lie and identify its real enemy.
2. In the Dail this week our Sinn Fein TDs rightly described the recent events in Killybegs as being like something out an episode of Father Ted - but at this point I believe that another group of people marching up and down a quayside with anti minister and anti SFPA placards is now, and probably always has been, a completely useless exercise when the survival of the industry lies with the Taoiseach Michael Martin who must be made aware of the corruption within the senior ranks of the Department of Marine.
As leader of this nation, our Taoiseach must be made to realise that year by year all sectors of the Irish fishing industry - from the smallest inshore boat to the mid range demersal fleet to the largest pelagic vessel, and all industry associated companies are being threatened, harassed and shut down, NOT by the EU Commission - NOT by the SFPA - NOT by a long line of ineffective marine ministers who found their hands tied as soon as they were appointed, but by a select few powerful civil servants within the Department of Marine.
THIS is the cancer in our industry…
THIS is the dark corner into where the light must shine….
And THIS meeting today is where it all must start.