Thursday, 3 June 2021
Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2021 [Seanad]: Second Stage
Richard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
The Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2021 was published on 4 May 2021 to provide an opportunity to raise fishery matters and to seek clarification on Rockall, as that will be an issue for fishermen and fisherwomen, who are united on this matter. No prior public consultation took place. There was no pre-legislative scrutiny. No regulatory impact analysis accompanied this Bill. The housing Bill came before the House a number of weeks ago and there was uproar because there was no pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government is back again with another Bill without pre-legislative scrutiny. Would the Government not have learned its lesson from a couple of weeks ago? It has not.
My colleague mentioned the talks around the formation of the Government. I was also in the room with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Deputy Eamon Ryan and our Rural Independent Group, including Deputy Michael Collins. The one thing Deputy Collins looked for in the programme for Government was a senior Minister for fisheries. It was the main thing for which he looked. We can now see why we need a senior Minister for fisheries. This is the perfect example.
We have seen the new process for weighing fish. The Tánaiste said today that SMEs account for more than 50% of the employment in Ireland. The fishermen and fisherwomen of this country are also SMEs. What does the Government do? It puts more regulation and paperwork in place. That has a knock-on effect on processors and hauliers. Everyone has a huge amount of paperwork to do. Imagine that was the case in another industry and I was to go into a quarry tomorrow morning for stone. If I was to undergo the same scrutiny as the fishermen, I would have to unload my truck of stone, weigh it at a weighbridge and then put it back into the truck again. That is the type of stupid stuff the Government is coming up with. There are digital ways, means and formats to do the weighing. The Government should get with the times.
Excuse the pun but the Government has sold our soul. This is a complete cod of what it has done to the fisherman and fisherwomen of this country. The Government has sold us out. It seems that on everything we ask it to negotiate for Brexit and the fisheries, the Government sits in the room and says, "Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir".
Michel Barnier has taken everything from us and given it to the French and the rest of the European states. He left us with nothing and the Government sat there and took it. The Government is here to fight for the rights of our fisheries and the rights of all the people who are included within the fisheries and it has done nothing. The disappointment is beyond words. Those in Government should be ashamed of themselves for not fighting for the people in the fisheries in Ireland.