They’re walking all over us! Irish ex-diplomat admits EU bullying Dublin – fish plundered
Micheál Martin discusses Northern Ireland Protocol
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Ray Bassett claimed the bloc remains a “cold house” for his country – and fears foreign fleets will continue to “plunder” Irish waters for the foreseeable future, consequently imperilling its fishing industry. Mr Bassett, Ireland’s ex-ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, was commenting after Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s Minister for the Marine, spoke with EU counterparts at a meeting of the EU Fisheries Council.
Mr McConalogue voiced his concerns over Ireland’s allocation of fish caught in its own waters in accordance with the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Since Brexit, many French and Spanish boats which previously operated in UK waters are instead focusing on Irish ones.
To compound matters, Ireland’s quota in UK waters has been reduced by 15 percent.
Mr Bassett told Express.co.uk: “In my estimation, Minister Charlie McConalogue has absolutely zero chance of getting a radical re-allocation of fish quotas for Ireland under a revised Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
“The paltry allocation to Ireland of 15.5 percent of the quotas in Irish waters, that is presently available to our fishermen, is an absolute disgrace.
“In addition, the changes brought about by Brexit and the UK taking more control over its maritime resources has highlighted to Ireland just how peripheral the country is to the centre of power in Brussels.
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“Despite getting an obscenely low allocation of quota in our own waters, Ireland was further penalised by having to take the largest quota cut in UK waters, despite being the Member State in the EU which is most adversely affected by Brexit.
Mr Bassett added: “From my own contacts with the fishing industry, the rank and file of the Irish fishing fleet support, and are envious of, their UK colleagues who enjoy the strong support of the Johnson administration in the quest for control of their own waters. “
Mr McConalogue might secure some “small concessions” in relation to quayside weighings, Mr Bassett acknowledged, but that was a “marginal issue”.
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He explained: “The fundamental injustice of the CFP to Ireland will remain and Ireland simply does not have the clout, with just over one percent of the votes in the European Council, to overturn the present system.
“In addition, history has shown that Fisheries Ministers have never gotten the necessary support of successive Irish Cabinets, who have consistently placed loyalty to Brussels on a higher plane than the interests of fishermen and their coastal communities.”
Mr Bassett said: “I would not hold my breath for Minister McConologue to upset the apple cart.
“Yet again the post-Brexit EU has proved to be a cold house for Ireland and I am afraid that foreign fleets will continue to plunder this rich natural resource and damage further our precious marine environment.”
Speaking after the meeting, Mr McConalogue said: “I made clear at Council that the disproportionate burden placed on Ireland in terms of quota loss, under the Brexit TCA, must be addressed.
“And I will be relentless in pursuing this issue on behalf of the Irish fishing industry at every opportunity.
“I set down that in the upcoming Common Fisheries Policy review, I will be making the renegotiation of quota shares Ireland’s priority.”
Fisheries ministers were meeting to finalise the common policy of the EU27 with respect to the revision and strengthening of existing fisheries control rules.
Mr McConalogue added: “I appreciate that the Commission has revoked Ireland’s current control plan, and Ireland’s control authority, the SFPA, is preparing a new revised control plan for submission to the Commission.
“It will be essential that the new control regulation will provide for the continuation of weighing of landings in factories as a derogation from the overall policy of weighing on the quayside when the required assurances are in place.
“This derogation is necessary to reflect the unique geography of our fish processing industry, where most of our processing plants are not on the quayside.”
Mr McConalogue also met with Irish fishing industry representatives after a protest in Dublin in which 74 Irish boats sailed up the Liffey to underline their concerns.
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