Thursday, 14 March 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I support the proposal made by Senators Ardagh and Mac Lochlainn. I will not rehearse all the arguments that we will put forward later on but I agree entirely with Senator Mac Lochlainn's comments. Two years ago the Minister sought to give legal effect to a voisinageagreement that was found to have a weak legislative underpinning in terms of its operation over the decades. It is entirely wrong-headed of any Minister to come into this House and present us with the same legislation he presented to us two years ago and expect it to be passed here today. There has not been any meaningful consultation with fishing representatives, trawler owners or fishing communities on the impact of this legislation. There has not been even one small genuflection in the direction of consultation with the Members of this House who opposed the legislation on Committee Stage in March and May 2017. It is the height of political expediency on the part of the Minister to expect this House to pass this ill-conceived and wrong-headed legislation at this time when we consider this in the context of the UK's Government's commitment to remove itself from the London Fisheries Convention of 1964 and in the context of Brexit, and when we do not know and have no clue what the future of the Irish fishing industry will look like post Brexit, the arrangements that will be in place or what a new Commons Fisheries Policy will look like.
I am prepared, through gritted teeth, to accept and compromise with the Minister that we would deal with Committee Stage today, but I am certainly not prepared and neither are my Labour Party colleagues to see it advance further given the circumstances in which we find ourselves and given the fact, as Senator Mac Lochlainn clearly stated, there has been no meaningful consultation with the businesses and with the communities who will be directly affected by this legislation. The reality is that the only obligation we have in this House and as a sovereign nation is to look after and represent the interests of fishing communities in this country. That is the issue of paramount importance, nothing else, and the Government should not be distracted or deflected from that obligation.