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Little to Be Encouraged About in FF and FG Approach to Marine

The Chief Executive of ISME, the Irish independent representative association for Small and Medium Enterprises, told the Dáil Committee on Covid 19 this week how difficult it is to deal with the “upper reaches of the public service and executive.” There are many in the fishing industry who will find agreement with that opinion from their own experience.

This week the MARINE TIMES reveals the poor treatment of the aquaculture sector by the Department of the Marine. This follows the disagreement between the Department and the four national fish producer organisations. Though the POs were offered an agreement this was described as a “botched and unacceptable”. The POs suggested a scheme based on the French system for Covid 19 assistance. That was rejected. IFA Aquaculture has had the same experience. It suggested a scheme similar to that announced for fish farmers in Northern Ireland and anther by the Scottish government. There has been not positive response so far.

The CEO of ISME, Neil McDonnell, told the Dáil Committee that “the upper reaches of the Irish public service are fixated on the foreign multinational corporate sector” – foreign direct investment. “There is little doubt that the perception is that big business is good, small business bad.”

This attitude, similar to what has previously been identified by sections of the fishing industry in dealings with government, are not evidence of a healthy State attitude towards indigenous industry. There seems little likelihood of positive change by any new government from reports this week that, of the three political parties negotiating government formation, only the Green Party wanted a dedicated Department of the Marine, to reflect that Ireland is “an island nation.”

It would appear from these reports that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, who declared in a joint document for Coalition that: “We are an island nation, bound together by solidarity” do not relate their statement to maritime realities.