Wednesday, 28 September 2022
Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn (Donegal, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source
It was about 12 weeks ago that the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, met representatives of the Irish fishing industry, who outlined the seriousness of the crisis and the impact of their break-even sum for fuel being 60 cent a litre while they had been paying more than €1. They explained how they could not afford to go out to sea and how other European member states had intervened, such as France, Spain, Sweden - I could go on.
For whatever reason, however, the Minister and his Government have failed to intervene to provide emergency financial supports to the fishing industry. Representatives met him again in recent days and, I have to say, I am shocked a rescue package for our fishing industry was not announced in the budget. I cannot figure it out for the life of me. The Minister put out a statement through his officials that is utter spin. He announced a record investment in coastal communities, yet he knows that about two thirds of that comprises European Brexit funding to compensate for the loss of quota. The Government is actually dropping investment, therefore, from the central Exchequer into fishing and coastal communities and has refused to provide an emergency budget for fishermen. Fisheries both on the islands and inshore, along with every producer organisation, co-operative and fishing or seafood organisation in this State, have united to say this is an unprecedented crisis and to highlight that it has been one thing after another with the lack of quota, Brexit and now this fuel crisis.
I am taking this opportunity to again appeal to the Minister to please put together an emergency package. In our alternative budget, we outlined how the Government could use the European funds that are there or central Exchequer funding. Like me, he comes from a community that is surrounded by water and fishing communities. This is something he should know instinctively. He has met these people face to face and seen the whites of their eyes, and he knows the issue. I appeal to him, or to his officials or whoever is blocking this, to please stand for up for his communities and ensure there will be an emergency financial package to bail out our fishing and coastal communities. Leaving aside politics, as two people from Donegal with fishing communities around us, this has to be sorted out.