Tuesday, 6 December 2005
Regional Fisheries Boards (Postponement of Elections) Order 2005: Motion.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
I thank the Minister of State for pressing for this debate, albeit a short one. In this brief opportunity, I record Sinn Féin's opposition to the intended changes in the administration and control mechanisms over our inland fisheries arising from the Farrell Grant Sparks report. This postponement of elections order is a facilitation measure and is, accordingly, also being opposed.
The Minister of State must note the concerns expressed by many people who enjoy access to the great resource that is our inland fisheries. He stated that local users and beneficiaries will be empowered to take responsibility for the management, promotion and development of our lakes and rivers. Will the Minister of State explain why the reference is to local users only and will he give a definition of "local"? To what beneficiaries does he refer? How would he define the term "beneficiary" in regard to inland waterways as distinct from users of same? I have many questions and so far the answers are very few.
In the absence of detail, concerns and fears will fill the vacuum. That said, there is enough to give rise to concern about the future control of our inland waterways. Is this the thin end of the wedge of private control over a public natural and national resource? Such questions must be addressed. I look forward to a greater opportunity for debate, in line with the commitment given by the Taoiseach.