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Pringle slams Government for rushing marine planning framework through Oireachtas

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, slammed the Government for recklessly trying to rush the motion on the country’s first National Marine Planning Framework through the Oireachtas. Addressing the Dáil today on the motion on the new framework, Deputy Pringle said: “The disgraceful way in which this motion is being rushed through brings the whole Oireachtas process into disrepute.”

Deputy Pringle said: “The way in which you are attempting to rush this motion through without proper process, scrutiny or recommendations is completely reckless and will lead to legal challenges down the line. Why can this Government never have foresight? I’ve said this before, that it is so disheartening to work within such a reactive system.”

He had also raised his concerns about Government’s treatment of the motion in the Dáil earlier this week, and in the Business Committee.

Deputy Pringle said: “It was also telling that fishermen were never consulted in relation to this, the people who actually work on the sea and use the sea to earn their living were never consulted in relation to what you’re proposing to do.”

The deputy asked why marine protected areas were not included in the framework, saying that Government targets called for 10% of Irish seas to be marine protected areas by 2020, increasing to 30% by 2030. But to date, just 2.3% of Irish seas are MPAs, and the department’s advisory group’s report, Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network, is open for public consultation until July 30th, 2021, he said.

He said the website states that the Department intends to begin developing legislation on the identification, designation and management of MPAs later in 2021 and asked, “How can these things be worked on separately?”

The deputy said the excuse that Ireland is late for transposition of the EU directive, “doesn’t hold water”. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the directive in 2014, he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “This regulation was originally transposed in 2016 and then repealed and replaced in October 2018. The marine spatial plan was supposed to be in place by March 2021. This has been in the pipeline for years.

“We are asking for a few weeks to undertake proper scrutiny and make recommendations. A few weeks will not make a difference to the EU but will make a huge difference to the future of our marine estate. And I think this is far too important.”

Deputy Pringle also credited the Irish Wildlife Trust for hosting the first town hall meeting on marine protected areas yesterday in Donegal.

He said: “We have a lot of dedicated activists and groups who want the best for our beautiful country.”

The Voice of Fishers Has Been Ignored Again

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has slammed the government for rushing the National Marine Planning Framework (NPMF) through the Dáil this week, and for rejecting calls for the representatives of Irish fishers to be consulted on the finalised framework at an Oireachtas Committee.

Teachta Mac Lochlainn said: “The voice of fishers has been ignored again. It is reckless and arrogant for the government to reject appeals from Sinn Féin and others for representatives of Irish fishers and environmental NGOs be invited to outline their response to the final NPMF at the Oireachtas Committee tasked with scrutinising this framework that will have far reaching consequences for coastal communities.

“While there is widespread support for the further development of renewable and off-shore energy, a balance must be found that protects traditional fishing grounds and the marine eco-system.

"Unfortunately many fishers feel that their rights are being trampled on, and that they are being squeezed out of fishing grounds that have provided a sustainable living to them, their families and communities for generations.

"Environmental NGOs also have real concerns.

"The government were being asked to delay the passing of the NPMF by just a few more weeks so that this vital planning framework can strike a fair balance. They have chosen to ignore those appeals, and they have wilfully insulted our fishing communities once again."

National Marine Planning Framework Deserves Serious Debate

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the country’s first National Marine Planning Framework deserves proper Dáil scrutiny, and more than the paltry 55 minutes the Government has put aside for debate this week.

The deputy has also raised his concerns about the lack of Dáil debate on the framework in the Business Committee.

Deputy Pringle said: “This framework is about safeguarding our marine environment for the future. We’re talking about a region that is seven times the size of Ireland’s landmass. Seventy-five per cent of Ireland’s people live in coastal communities.

“The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Heritage and Local Government has not yet concluded its consideration of the framework, and yet the Minister is pushing this motion through the Dáil.

“Surely this is something that should be debated thoroughly in the Dáil. But no, this is coming up on Thursday with just a paltry 55 minutes put aside for debate on this critical and wide-ranging framework. Even that concession came late – originally the motion was listed for no debate.

“The consultation draft of the framework is a report of nearly 200 pages that brings together all marine-based human activities. It addresses renewable energy, fisheries, ports, harbour and shipping, sport and recreation, tourism, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

“We have to get this right,” Deputy Pringle said.