Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called on the Irish Government to ensure the rights of the Irish fishing industry are protected in the aftermath of Brexit.
Cllr Cunningham said Irish fishermen were in danger of becoming “the meat in the sandwich between the EU and Britain during any talks on Brexit.”
Cllr Cunningham who hails from the fishing village of Clogherhead said “Our government needs to make it absolutely clear to the EU negotiating team how important our fishing industry is to this island. You can be sure that the French, Dutch and other EU countries will do everything to protect their fishing industries and we must not be any different.”
At present, Ireland catches half its quota in British Waters. The London Convention of 1964 allowed Irish fishing vessels to fish in British waters before their entry into the EU. Britain has expressed that they are seeking to exit that agreement. After Brexit Ireland will have 30% of Europe’s viable fishing water and 40% of its fishing stocks yet Irish fishermen are restricted to landing just 5% or less of the overall catch putting tremendous pressure on the industry.
Cllrs Tom Cunningham & Imelda Munster TD at Clogherhead Harbour
Cllr Tom Cunningham asked “what will happen to the EU vessels that are currently fishing in British waters? They will be displaced and the obvious place for them to go to is Ireland’s waters. Stakeholders estimate Brexit will cause the loss of between 500-600 Irish vessels and as our industry is comprised of small fishing vessels, in real terms, that means thousands of families losing their primary source of income and the decimation of coastal communities right around Ireland.”
Cllr Cunningham called on the Irish Government to “demand that the non-Irish vessels that are displaced from British waters are not redirected into increasingly crowded Irish waters.”
The British decided in July of this year to withdraw from the London Convention of 1964, however, Cllr Cunningham said he would give a cautious welcome to “remarks from the British Minister Michael Gove in August on allowing EU vessels to use British waters post-Brexit” but warned “these comments will cause as much confusion as relief. The Irish fishing industry needs certainty, it needs to know what is coming down the line so they can make adequate preparations, they don’t need this flip-flop approach from the British Government. The onus is on the Irish Government to represent the fishing industry and fishing communities.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has urged fishermen to get involved in action against Brexit.
Councillor Cunningham was at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday discussing the decimation of the fishing industry in Ireland.
Cllr Cunningham said “The British Prime Minister triggered Article 50 so Britain will be out of Europe within two years. My main concern for Clogherhead is that the main fleet is prawn fishermen and their area is British waters which obviously will no longer be available to them after the two years are up.
“Not only that, but as the British waters will be longer available to them or indeed other fleets from other EU countries, where are they going to fish? In Irish waters obviously. We can not be made to bear the brunt of the displaced fleets from British waters. The government is already neglecting the fishing industry, I don’t have much faith that they will represent our interests in any arrangements being made under Brexit.”
Cllr Cunningham said “The fishing industry must get involved, along with the farmers because they are the two groups that are going to be the main losers in the whole Brexit fiasco. We can not allow these displaced fleets to transfer to Irish waters, our fishing industry would be finished as would our coastal communities as we know them.
“No-one knows the fishing industry better than the fishermen. Get involved, oppose Brexit, demand your rights and interests are protected. Don’t leave it to a neglectful government to do it for you because as we all know, they won’t.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has today said that the Irish government must commit to working meaningfully with all political parties and all stakeholders in the aftermath of the triggering of Article 50 and the formal beginning of the Brexit process today.
He said that ‘Brexit presents a very dangerous situation for Ireland, north and south, but that threat can be minimised and a special designated status for the north within the European Union can be secured, if all of us work together in pursuit of that goal’.
Today the British government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process which will formalise their exit from the European Union.
Sinn Féin has called for special designated status for the north of Ireland to remain in the European Union. We have done so because it is in the interests of the Irish people; for farmers, for students, for small businesses, and Irish society; for human rights protections, environmental standards, for peace and reconciliation and for infrastructure.
56% of people in the north voted to Remain in the EU – that has to be respected.
Tomorrow, on Thursday March 30th, MEPs from across Europe will join with Martina Anderson MEP and Matt Carthy MEP at a public meeting to discuss the way forward. Louth Sinn Féin TD and Party President Gerry Adams will also address this meeting.
The meeting will take place on Thursday 30th March, in the Carrickdale Hotel, County Louth, at 7:30pm.
It will be an opportunity for you to voice your concerns to people who will have an influence on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. You, and representatives of your organisation are most welcome.
No Border, No Barriers, No Brexit
Thursday March 30th
Carrickdale Hotel, Co. Louth
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the publication of the Oireachtas report by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on ‘The Likely Economic Impact of Brexit with Particular Emphasis on Jobs and Enterprise’.
Teachta Adams said: “The Committee’s endorsement of a designated special status for the North within the EU is a very important addition to the growing political and public support for this.”
In its report the Oireachtas Committee acknowledges that it is ‘essential to argue the case for designated special status within the EU’.
It also supports:
- ‘protection of the peace process and protection and full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements;
- access to the EU Single Market;
- maintain access to all EU funding streams;
- remain part of the Common Travel Area;
- maintain access to the EU institutions including the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and EU sectoral agreements;
- protect access to EU rights pertaining to employment, social security and healthcare;
- protect the right of northern Irish citizens as Irish, and therefore, EU citizens, and all rights pertaining thereto.’
All of these are vital measures to protect jobs, defend communities, protect rights and uphold the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement.
The report identifies agriculture as a sector under serious risk. It cites the example of flour mills as illustrative of the difficulties Brexit will create. There are three flour mills on the island of Ireland, two of them in Belfast. The Belfast Mills export 60% of their output to the South. If World Trade Organisation tariffs are introduced post Brexit this could present huge additional costs as these are very high at €178 per tonne, representing a tariff of 50%.
Milk production is another sector that will face significant difficulties as a result of two different regulatory and trading regimes. Some 600 million litres of milk flows across the border every year from the North to the South where it is processed in the South into milk powder, infant formula and other products.
This is about 25pc of the North’s total milk output. In the event of Brexit WTO tariffs would impose an aggregate tariff of 45pc. This would undermine milk production, make it very uncompetitive and pose a grave rick to the future of many dairy farmers in the North.
And then there is the imposition of customs posts and delays along the border as checks have to be carried out.
This report is the result of many months of work and engagement with individuals and organisations that have outlined the potential effects on jobs Brexit will have. There was unanimity from these stakeholders that Brexit will have negative consequences on the Irish economy.
I would urge anyone concerned about the impact of Brexit to read the report which is available on the Oireachtas website.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD attended a meeting in Dundalk on Friday with the Speaker of the German Bundestag Prof Norbert Lambert. The meeting was organised by An Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghaíl.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the impact of Brexit on the Memorandum of Understanding between Newry and Mourne and Louth County council.
Gerry Adams said:
The Dáil has now voted in favour of the Sinn Féin position that argues the case for the North to be designated Special Status within the EU – which should now become official Government policy.
Sinn Féin is concerned about the entire island of Ireland and what we need now is a White paper which sets out the Governments political and policy approach to the EU negotiations over the next 2 years relating to the border, free movement, trade, investment, [tax policy i.e Apple (EU v Irish Govt], competitiveness, Agri food, energy, GFA human rights safeguards, EU funding and all other relevant matters.
The island of Ireland and especially the border corridor, will be disproportionately impacted both economically in terms of competitiveness and politically in terms of the GFA constitutional and institutional arrangements and the impact of a land border.
The EU has been a critical partner for peace providing political and financial aid and it is crucial that we maintain this relationship.
Brexit now demands that the Irish Government reshapes future foreign policy both with Britain and the EU itself. The withdrawal of Britain presents an opportunity to now Reform the EU, including the strengthening of the role of smaller Member States within it.