Thursday, 3 June 2021
Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2021 [Seanad]: Second Stage
Thomas Pringle (Donegal, Independent)
It is interesting, as the Bill is being discussed, to listen to the debate around fishing, and what has happened to our fishing industry.
I know the Minister is probably fed up with it but this legislation does not specifically cover fishing or the fishing industry. It is, however, a very important part of our whole maritime resource, which needs to be addressed and looked at. It outlines historically how the State has looked at the maritime resource over the years.
There is no doubt that fishing, as an example of how not to look at the development and potential for development of our resources, will be telling tale. It will be a telling tale led by the fact that those who were pointed out by the Government as being our so-called friends in Europe were actually the people who stole our fishing from us. I use the word "stole" because when we were negotiating to join the European Union, it made the only responsibility of the European Commission at that time the conservation of fishing rights. Why did it do that? It did that because Ireland, Denmark and England were increasing the amount of water resources of the European Union fourfold at that time. It did that because it knew what we were bringing to the table and we did not. That is a shame on us. We have to be blamed for that because the Irish Government did not know what we were bringing to the table. In fact, the Government did not believe the fishing industry when the fishing industry told it what we were bringing and it allowed that to happen.
As I understand, the Government was told straight up at the time that if it wanted to be included in the fishing negotiations, there would be no negotiations. Fine Gael's former leader, Garret FitzGerald, wrote back to me after addressing the Patrick MacGill Summer School in Glenties at the time around 2000 or 2002. I wrote to him about it and he wrote back and confirmed it to me. He said the EU never treated us badly after that. It did not have to.