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Shock at DARD's refusal to provide tie-up aid for north's fishing industry

31 January, 2007


South Down Assembly candidate Caitríona Ruane has expressed her disbelief at this week's announcement by Direct Rule Fisheries Minister David Cairns MP that tie-up aid will not be made available to the north's fishing industry.

Ms Ruane said: "The seafood industry is at the heart of the social and
economic life of costal communities here in south Down yet successive
decisions by the EU Fisheries Council have decimated the industry in towns
and villages such as Kilkeel, Annalong and Ardglass.

"This week's shocking decision by Fisheries Direct Rule Minister David
Cairns not to provide tie-up aid is absolutely disgraceful. It is simply not
good enough for Mr Cairns to say that he has asked officials to investigate
'alternative fishing opportunities' for whitefish vessel owners. This is yet
more meaningless waffle from an unaccountable direct rule minister. The
facts of the matter are, the British Government's approach to quota
negotiations in Brussels has been characterised by a failure to even
consider the plight of the local fishing industry here in the north.

"Contrast this week's news with plans announced in the south of Ireland for
the seafood industry which envisages large scale investment from the
National Development Plan and additional state finance and private funding
for fishing. Clearly the British Government is failing thousands of people
whose livelihoods are dependent on fishing here locally. The problem is
further compounded by the fact that the Executive remained suspended since
2003, meaning locally elected politicians have been unable to properly
support groups like the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation in
negotiations.

"There is no doubt that when we compare the investment in the fishing
industry made by the Irish government our interests would be better served
within a single all-Ireland approach to sustaining and developing the
fishing industry. It is just one of many areas that would benefit greatly
from increased cross border co-operation and I am convinced if we dealt with
this issue on an all-Ireland basis a better deal could be struck for the
fishing community here in the six counties." ENDS

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