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Minister’s record of empty promises

“From once strongly supporting the demand for a revamp of the Department of Marine and its management of the fishing industry, the now-minister of that very same Department refuses to even entertain such a thought” - Cormac Burke, Chairman IFSA.

Exactly ten years ago this month, an ambitious Fianna Fáil Donegal North East Deputy called for a complete overhaul of the Department of the Marine “to facilitate a revival of the fishing industry in Ireland”.

In a press statement on May 17th 2011 a certain Deputy Charlie McConalogue publicly pledged his full support to Fr John Joe Duffy and Councillor Brendan Byrne in their call for reform of the management structure in the Department.

"Fr John Joe has outlined to me the various reasons why he believes the fishing industry had suffered in this country over the past number of years and central to this is the current staff structure at senior level in the Department of Marine,” said. Mr McConalogue, adding that “while many ministers have come and gone, the Department’s managers have remained in place and have guarded the status quo”.

His statement went on to read:

"The industry has lost all confidence in the current structure of the Department of Marine with many fisherman concerned that their views have fallen on deaf ears.

“We are an island nation, and the fishing industry is one of our key resources. We need radical measures to revive the fishing industry and secure its growth into the future.

“I believe this requires a complete review of how the fishing industry in this country is managed. We cannot continue to sacrifice our coastal communities. The fishermen have suffered as a consequence of tough decisions made at EU level over the past number of years and tougher decisions need to be taken this time within the Department of the Marine itself.

"I am calling on the government not to waste any more time on this important issue. They must take urgent action to secure full and meaningful reform of the civil service structure in this area,” said Deputy McConalogue.

Speaking with a forked tongue

Looking back today to these comments of ten years ago, the Irish fishing industry has one question - what has changed in that time Mr McConaglogue?

The same senior level civil service regime still controls the fishing industry, only now under your watch.

The statements made back then were completely correct - the industry HAS lost all confidence in the structure within the Department of Marine; we DO need radical measures to secure the fishing industry; and, yes, the Government MUST take urgent action to secure a full and meaningful reform of the civil service structure in this area!

The only thing that has changed in those ten years is the politician who gave so much hope to the industry when trying to win votes, now finds himself the head of the department that he so vehemently opposed back then and, much akin to the strategy of his own Fianna Fáil party (who lead the opposition against the introduction of a completely unjust penalty points system for fishermen but were first in line to push for its introduction as soon as they got into Government), his only inheritance to the fishing industry is that he will be remembered as the Minister for Empty Promises.

None of us should be surprised that a politically-driven man would say anything to gain votes but it somehow seems sadder in this case when the man in question comes from a coastal region and who knows the true importance of the fishing, seafood and rural coastal communities’ economies and has still proceeded to literally sell out the fishing and seafood people just to further his own career.

It has become widely known in this industry in recent months that the Minister has been unhappy with the bad press he’s been getting (mostly from the IFSA and the Marine Times), particularly since Christmas and the fumbled BREXIT deal for Ireland, and for establishing a ‘lip-service’ Task Force (with recommendations already set out before any meetings actually took place) - - - well just read your own 2011 statements above Mr McConalogue - - this industry isn’t just disappointed with a few poor decisions of the past few months - it is furious that you not only failed to carry out the promises you made to your electors but that once you attained the exact position where you could have made a difference, you cowered down to the same civil service system that you swore you would reform.

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