Thursday, 25 February 2010
Denis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
I welcome the Minister of State to the House to accept this motion on the Adjournment. He is familiar with the circumstances of the situation in Castletownbere. Substantial business is being lost to the town and to the peninsula because we do not have a full-time harbourmaster. An investment of almost €40 million has been made in Castletownbere Harbour, which is of significant importance for the future, and I accept that the fishing industry is the prime motivator of business in Castletownbere. Nevertheless, vessels have recently been directed away from Castletownbere because they could not be properly berthed. A full-time harbourmaster with the goodwill of the district in his focus would ensure no business was lost to the harbour. The owner of a local oil company which supplies boats in the harbour says his business has declined by more than 50% in the last 12 or 15 months owing to uncertainty. On four occasions ships of the Naval Service could not come into the harbour because berths were not available. EiraNova, a Spanish-Irish ship processing company is now landing many of its vessels in Dingle. This sends out a very bad signal in difficult times.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food indicated that he is anxious that a new harbourmaster be appointed. I urge that this be done sooner rather than later. I will be in Castletownbere next Monday to meet 15 companies, big and small, which do business in the harbour. They are seriously concerned. One company will lose three or four jobs if the current state of play continues indefinitely. There has been a lapse of two years during which the former harbourmaster was ill and a temporary person was appointed. This creates considerable uncertainty at a time when the fishing industry faces significant difficulties. It would be a pity if related industries on the peninsula and in the greater west Cork area were allowed to suffer.