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Time to speak to the organ grinder and not the monkey

“Politicians are always visible when in Opposition but always invisible when in power…”

A General Election will come some day, we don’t know how soon but it will eventually come - -  and when that time arrives then our nation’s leaders will have to face the Irish public and have their own, and their party’s, performance evaluated, to justify the decisions made, and the explain the strategies taken during the course of their term in office.

With an obvious strong and ongoing vote of ‘no confidence’ in the current agriculture and marine minister from the fishing and farming communities (and from several Independent TDs) of this country, the question must be asked at this time as to who exactly is calling the shots, both politically speaking and at civil service level, in these sectors.

Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine Charlie McConalogue has, it would seem, unexplainably but intentionally gone out of his way to be unsupportive of the Irish fishing industry during his time as marine minister and God knows where he’ll be able to find a door to knock on at election time as he is likely to be chased away with some amount of abuse if he even shows his face in a Co. Donegal coastal town or village.

It is with this in mind that the ongoing decision to deny Irish fishermen access to EU fuel subsidy funds when the rest of the EU fleet are receiving them is looming large and in the past year or more it has gone from a mild complaint of injustice to a huge united outcry from the fishing sector.

One would presume that McConalogue is not so naive as to think he can continue to commit what is basically political suicide in standing firm in his refusal to allow the fishing fleet EU fuel subsidy (while France, for example, are paying their fishermen 20c per litre refund) and not have to eventually face the music with the electorate in his constituency, so it can only leave people with the belief that he is following party/coalition Government orders.

This being the case, the people of the Irish fishing industry can not be expected to sit back and allow Leo Varadkar and Michael Martin to hide behind the fact that they are participating in the destruction of the economies of Irish coastal communities and pretend that somehow they have no control over their own appointed DAFM minister.

Few would be surprised to learn that current Tainiste, Fianna Fail’s Michael Martin, has a reputation that indicates that he cares little about Irish fishing communities and, as memory serves, this is the same man who led the fight against the introduction of a fishing industry penalty point system when he sat in Opposition and then, within just three weeks of coming into power, signed off on it.

But the sitting Taoiseach, Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar, earlier took positive steps in reforming the long standing antiquated civil service regime of the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine (DAFM) and in doing so gave the Irish fishing industry some small hope that things were about to improve in terms of finally having a government who planned to support the rural coastal communities - - but now, as the industry urgently needs some intervention, he has seemingly ‘gone missing’.

The Taoiseach needs to be asked directly whether he supports his DAFM Minister’s stance on the fuel subsidy or not - and if so then explain himself, and if not then is it not within his power to instruct this minister to cease intentionally blocking all EU and State aid to the Irish fishing community?

The old saying comes to mind that “politicians are always visible when in Opposition but always invisible when in power…”

Election Day is coming and the people of Ireland’s coastal communities will remember these dark days and how they are being abandoned by the current coalition government.

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