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Ferris condemns betrayal of Irish Fisheries

19 June, 2008

Speaking during a special Dáil debate on fisheries this afternoon the Sinn Féin Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD condemned what he claimed was decades of betrayal of the Irish fisheries dating back to the negotiations for EU entry in the early 1970s.

The Kerry North TD quoted figures which show that in the first 30 years of membership the full value of the fish taken by foreign fleets from Irish waters amounted to €200 billion, five times that received in all transfer funds such as CAP and structural funding.

Deputy Ferris said, "It is no coincidence that this debate on the fishing crisis is taking place a week after the Irish people voted to reject any further surrender of power over our affairs to Brussels because, if there was ever an example of an aspect of Irish life that has suffered from EU bureaucracy it is the fishing sector.

"The crisis has been brought to a head by fuel costs but it is only one of a long series of successive blows to the sector here. The quota has been cut, the number of fishing days reduced, and legislation introduced to criminalise fishermen despite the overwhelming opposition of the Agriculture and Fisheries Committee. And all of this added to the perception that the weight of the policing of the fisheries has fallen on Irish fishermen rather than foreign fleets.

"An entire section of the Criminal Justice Act is devoted to fishermen and includes provisions allowing fisheries protection officers to enter private homes and seize documents and computers. No other profession or trade in the state was given such attention. And this in a state where unregulated private airports and private airplanes have been at the centre of massive drug importations. Good to see that former Minister Michael McDowell had his priorities right.

"And as if that was not sufficient, the former Minister used the word 'traitors' to describe those he claimed were the object of the legislation. In reality the only traitors, in the true sense of the word were those who bargained and sold our fisheries in 1972. They betrayed Irish fishermen and they betrayed the Irish people." ENDS

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