Brexit: Von der Leyen says EU has ‘predictability’ over fishing
And a former Irish diplomat has said the comments suggested the penny was starting to drop in terms of the damage the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP) was causing to his country’s fishing industry. Patrick Murphy was reacting to the agreement unveiled by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Christmas Eve.
Referring to a famous Irish folk song, Mr Murphy said: “The Fields of Athenry remembers those who saw their land taken from them and who were then jailed for trying to grasp some of the crops sown in their own very fields to feed their families.
“Will it also be sung in decades to come to mourn future generations of lost and ghostlike fishers all along our Coastal Communities when fishing and the ways of the sea are but a distant memory?
“In 2021, will we once again live through repetition of the mistakes of history made between 1976 and 1982?”
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Mr Murphy explained Ireland’s fishermen had been lost out as a result of the relative stability formula devised in 1982, which he said “conferred enormous and wholly unequal shares in fish stocks in Irish Waters to our EU neighbours while granting scraps from the rich men’s table to Irish fishers”.
However, he warned the situation was about to get even worse, adding: “The very concept of relative stability that has underpinned the CFP since 1983 and which has enabled French, Spanish and Dutch Fishers to plunder our Waters ever since is dead: maimed and killed by the EU itself arising out of the deal with UK.
“We do not want a derisory sum of money of the kind being whispered in the Corridors of Power to be settled upon us in order to buy our silence and hasten the ending of hundreds of years’ worth of renewable earnings worth billions over time.
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“We want what is right and we want what we, a supposedly equal member of the European Community, is entitled to.
“We want to continue to catch Irish fish in Irish waters for the benefit of our own local Irish communities.
“We do not want to be forced to give away these fish to others and effectively end a way of life on our country’s coastline that can and should feed millions while providing sustainable incomes for the tens of thousands of people who live in our coastal communities – for the moment!
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Allow Irish fishers, just like the English, Scots and Welsh Fishers, to be given the right to catch a fair and equitable portion of the fish that swim and breed in our own Irish waters
“Allow Irish fishers, just like the English, Scots and Welsh Fishers, to be given the right to catch a fair and equitable portion of the fish that swim and breed in our own Irish waters so to save the coastal towns and villages dotted all along our coast and the communities who depend so much on fishing for their livelihoods!”
Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “It is about time some of our fishing organisations started stating the obvious.
“Namely that the Common Fisheries Policy is a disaster for countries like Ireland and the UK.
Our leaders need to campaign for its abolition.
“I think this is the start of a disillusionment which is setting in after Brexit.
“The vaccine debacle is adding to the feeling that the EU is much less in Ireland’s interest than our Europhile politicians would like us to believe.”
Speaking after the deal was confirmed last week, Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said: “I welcome today’s agreement between EU and UK negotiators after what has been a long and difficult process.
“This is a positive agreement for Ireland’s agri-food sector, primarily in the avoidance of what would have been very damaging tariffs in the event of ‘No Deal’.
“The potential for tariffs of up to €2.5billion on agri-food trade between Ireland and Great Britain had been one of the primary concerns for Government and for stakeholders right across the agri-food sector, so it is welcome that such an outcome has been avoided.
“The deal does, however, contain unwelcome elements for our fishing industry despite Ireland continually putting forward the strongest possible case for the sector.”
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