Brexit: Von der Leyen says EU has ‘predictability’ over fishing
Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Cork-based Irish South & West Fish Producers Organization (IS&WFPO), accused the bloc of “betraying” his country in a scorching takedown of the agreement. He said the deal denies Irish fishermen the right to work in waters where they have traditionally operated for centuries.
Can we as an industry trust Brussels to have Ireland’s best interests at heart? I think not
Mr Murphy told Express.co.uk he had trawled through the agreement struck on Christmas Eve in terms of its implications for the Irish fishing industry and had reached some gloomy conclusions.
He said: “Can we as an industry trust Brussels to have Ireland’s best interests at heart? I think not.
“For example, on the issue of access to waters, the French fleet continues to have the right to fish within the 12-mile limit of the inhabited Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark but the Irish fleet is excluded from the waters surrounding the uninhabited Rock of Rockall that is closer to the Irish mainland than it is to the Scottish mainland.
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Simultaneously, Irish fishermen had been denied the right to catch and land fish from Irish waters under the concept of Zonal Attachment but instead had been used as a “trade-off” by the EU, with no attachment required for access to UK Waters.
He said: “Species such as herring in the Irish Sea were all but gifted to the UK while herring in the English Channel were kept by our EU ‘partners’. There are many more such examples.”
Mr Murphy explained: “I know my country’s history: the invasion, plantation, imprisonment, starvation, deportation and slavery endured by successive generations of Irish people from the late 16th Century while we continue to have six counties on our Ireland claimed as part of the United Kingdom.
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“This, to my mind, is the reason the European Commission and Council felt they could betray our country, our people and our Industry while betraying their own much-vaunted core principles and treaties.
“How can Europe stand over this continuing colonisation of our waters while trading away their benefit from our coastal communities to far-distant communities lying between the Frisian Islands and north-west Spain in direct contradiction of its own supposed policies?”
He added: “Despite the truths I have written of above, our historic links with our nearest neighbour, which haven’t always been the best, have seen our differences and grievances heal over time.
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“Free and open travel between our island nations benefits both peoples.
“And emigration from Ireland to urban centres stretching from Glasgow to Leeds to Manchester and Liverpool to London that have built family ties, cemented through our social and commercial ties with our biggest single trading partner with which we share a common language, interest in football, rugby, horse racing and so much more, are now damaged – but only temporarily, I hope.”
Speaking earlier this month, Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas and a prominent critic of the European Union, suggested the impact on Ireland’s fishing industry was likely to lead to mounting euroscepticism in his country.
He added: “It is about time some of our fishing organisations started stating the obvious, namely that the Common Fisheries Policy is a disaster for countries like Ireland and the UK. Our leaders need to campaign for its abolition.
“I think this is the start of a disillusionment which is setting in after Brexit.
“The vaccine debacle is adding to the feeling that the EU is much less in Ireland’s interest than our Europhile politicians would like us to believe.”
Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, offered an insight into the impact the deal would have on the industry with his assessment at the end of last year.
He said: “I welcome today’s agreement between EU and UK negotiators after what has been a long and difficult process.
“This is a positive agreement for Ireland’s agri-food sector, primarily in the avoidance of what would have been very damaging tariffs in the event of ‘No Deal’.
“The potential for tariffs of up to €2.5billion on agri-food trade between Ireland and Great Britain had been one of the primary concerns for Government and for stakeholders right across the agri-food sector, so it is welcome that such an outcome has been avoided.
“The deal does, however, contain unwelcome elements for our fishing industry despite Ireland continually putting forward the strongest possible case for the sector.”
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