Dáil debates

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages


4:45 pm

Photo of Martin KennyMartin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Inserting the word "not", to the effect that fishing boats from the North may not fish, effectively guts the entire voisinageagreement and removes it from law. While Deputy Michael Collins seeks to protect the inshore fishing sector and so on, it should be borne in mind that the inshore fishing sector also operates north of the Border. The Bill seeks to accommodate fishing everywhere within the six-mile zone all around the island of Ireland and recognise the island as one unit, which is what has been done through a gentleman's agreement that we know can be open to interpretation or even a little bit of stretching, to say the least. The agreement has nonetheless been in place and has worked for decades. Whatever abuses may have happened relate to issues of management or mismanagement. To table an amendment which seeks to set aside the agreement and remove it altogether is utterly inappropriate and wrong.

While I understand that the Deputy's intention in tabling the amendments is to delay the process and allow for more discussion and debate, as he has indicated, we are at the 11th hour. Although Brexit may not happen in the next number of days or weeks - we do not know how the matter will develop - we are in an uncertain situation. A number of months ago, we did not expect to be where are now. We all thought there would be an agreement and that it would have been resolved. That has not happened, however, and now we are in a situation where we are a matter of days away from a position where the State will not be able to negotiate this type of arrangement in future if we do not put in place now or very soon. The amendments are inappropriate and I recommend that they should not be supported.


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