Sinn Féin MLA, and Mid-Ulster by-election candidate, Francie Molloy, has welcomed the Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s refusal to support European proposals for a unilateral suspension of eel-fishing.
Mr Molloy facilitated an emergency meeting between Minister Ní Chuilín and representatives of the Lough Neagh Eel Fishermen’s Co-operative on Tuesday morning. The meeting was arranged by Mr Molloy after Minister Ní Chuilín voiced her public opposition last week to the blanket European proposals.
Speaking after the meeting in Stormont this morning, Mr Molloy said:
“I strongly welcome the intervention of Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín on this issue. Lough Neagh is a unique social, environmental and economic asset to the north.
“In particular, the Eel Fishermen’s Co-operative has, for almost fifty years, ensured a sustainable economic model and environmental management of eel fishing on the Lough. Around 300 families rely on the Co-operative’s work, and it is a sign of Minister Ní Chuilín’s commitment that she agreed to this urgent meeting.
“Together with Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, Minister Ní Chuilín is convening – at my request – a roundtable stake-holders event this Thursday to consider a broader strategic plan for opposing this damaging, counter-productive and illogical proposal from some elements of the European Parliament.
“This will be a long-term fight. I pledge Sinn Féin will be at the forefront of defending and protecting indigenous sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits around Lough Neagh. Minister Ní Chuilín’s intervention also provides an opportunity to think once again about the longer-term planning for Lough Neagh.
“This is a timely opportunity to restate the benefit of bringing Lough Neagh into public ownership, a campaign currently being led by Michelle O’Neill at Executive level.”