Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has spoken out after the passing of the Government’s Sea Fisheries Bill, that implements a penalty points system for the masters of sea fishing boats. He said that this legislation discriminates against Irish fishermen and treats them as “second class” citizens.
Teachta Mac Lochlainn said:
“This legislation sets a threshold of conviction for fishermen of ‘on the balance of probabilities’ rather than the universally accepted legal threshold for everybody else of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. This is second class citizenship for our fishermen.
“In 2018, for the first time in the history of the State, the Dáil voted down a Statutory Instrument (SI 89 of 2018). That Statutory Instrument is pretty much identical to this legislation. Despite the current Minister for the Marine and Taoiseach voting down SI 89 as unjust in opposition, they are now implementing it in government”.
The Donegal TD continued:
“This legislation follows the appalling treatment of Irish fishermen and fish producers when the EU’s Control Plan for fish landings was removed for much of last year. This draconian action followed the calamitous episode of an EU investigation and audit that said more about the state of the relationship between the SFPA and Irish fishermen and fish producers than anything else.
“Our fishermen and fish producers have never been provided with a copy of that investigation report or audit report despite parts of it being leaked to selected national Irish media, presumably with the objective of damaging the reputation of the industry. This again is second class citizenship. Irish fishermen and fish producers were accused of serious offences in the national media with out access to the so called evidence in order to defend themselves. It was an outrageous way to treat a whole industry and our coastal communities.
“All of this has to stop. It’s time for our Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to show leadership. Our fishermen must not be treated as second class citizens any longer.”