Fishermen to set up political movement to highlight 'decline of rural Ireland'

Fishermen to set up political movement to highlight 'decline of rural Ireland'

Mr Murphy was speaking just days after a flotilla of around 70 fishing vessels steamed into the Port of Cork to highlight issues affecting the industry.

Fishermen are planning to set up their own political movement, saying they are sick and tired of being “ignored” by politicians when raising concerns about the decline of rural Ireland.

There is no name yet for the movement, but organisers are planning to hold a series of public meetings in coastal towns and villages.

They aim to encourage local communities to field candidates in the next general election who will stand on a “rural Ireland ticket”.

Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, said the ambition is to organise a national “roadshow” to gauge opinion and to promote the need for more TDs dedicated to rural Ireland.

He said: “We are sick of politicians promising us the earth while in opposition, only for them to ignore us when they get into power.

"The fishing industry is dying in this country but so too is rural Ireland.

“We have to do something to stop the decline.

If the fishing industry collapses in this country, it will have a domino effect on coastal communities.

“We need more rural TDs who stick up for rural issues and to find a middle ground between Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.”

He cited delays over the implementation of rural broadband, rural housing issues, as well as the crisis facing the fishing industry and the farming community.

Mr Murphy was speaking just days after a flotilla of around 70 fishing vessels steamed into the Port of Cork to highlight issues affecting the industry.

They include the impact of Brexit, new EU rules on weighing fish as soon as it comes ashore, and the ban on Irish fishing within 12 nautical miles of Rockall.

They are now planning a bigger flotilla for Dublin Port.

While vessels came from a variety of counties for the Cork demonstration, they are hoping to attract a much large number of vessels for the next flotilla.

Growing frustration

The initiative is a sign of the growing frustration felt by the Irish fishing industry.

Union Hall fisherman Joe Walsh said: “We, as an industry, are constantly being asked to jump through one legislative hoop after another by Europe.

“In the past, we have done as we were told.

“But now it’s all becoming impractical and unrealistic and we’ve had enough.

“While it wouldn't be something for me, I know plenty of guys who feel strongly enough about what is happening to stand as a TD.

“Too few of the current crop of politicians are fighting for rural communities, and that needs to change.”

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