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DUP must shoulder much of the blame for fishing deal struck in Brussels

22 December, 2005


South Down Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane has said she shares the
disappointment and frustration of the negotiators who were representing the
north's fishing industry at talks on EU quotas in Brussels this month. Ms
Ruane said:

"The British Government is failing thousands of people whose livelihoods are
dependent on the fishing industry here in the six counties and I share the
frustration and disappointment of the people who have been tasked with
attempting to negotiate a better with Brussels. Part of the difficulty stems
from the fact we have unaccountable Direct Rule Ministers with up to five
Ministerial Briefs who are expected to represent the interests of an
industry that is on its knees because of successive quota restrictions and
longer tie-up times.

"Britain currently holds the EU Presidency yet priority has been given to
England, Scotland and Wales. The Welsh and Scottish Assemblies recognise the
importance of supporting their negotiating teams as of course does the Irish
Government which contrasts with what is happening here in the north. Fishing
communities here in South Down and across the north are suffering because of
the approach that has been adopted by successive British governments.

"Indeed without locally elected politicians working with representatives
from groups like the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation then the
situation can only get worse. It is why we need to re-establish the Power
Sharing Executive and all-Ireland institutions so those of us who have a
mandate can represent the community we were elected to serve.

"When people like the DUP's Jim Wells call for the resignation of Jeff
Rooker for not attending these talks he should remember his parties
continued refusal to share power with nationalists means they must shoulder
much of the blame for the deal that was struck this week in Brussels. It is
their intransigence which has created a situation where unaccountable Direct
Rule Ministers can do pretty much what they like and this applies to fishing
quotas as well as the implementation of water charges and cuts to our
education boards.

"There is a strong case, when comparing the investment in the fishing
industry made by the Irish government, that our interests would be better
served within a single all-Ireland approach to sustaining and developing our
industry.

"Fishing is one of many areas that would benefit greatly from greater cross
border co-operation and I am convinced if we dealt with this issue on an
all-Ireland basis a better deal good be struck for the fishing community
here in the six counties. ENDS



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