Sinn Féin TD for Donegal Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has called on the Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed to urgently clarify what financial supports he has sought from the European Commission to assist Ireland’s struggling fishing communities through the global Covid-19 crisis.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn’s comments follow reports that the Minister is reluctant to avail of the European Commission’s recently announced temporary relief scheme. The scheme allows European states to use structural funds to pay for compensation packages for fishers such as a tie up scheme.
Minister Creed, according to The Times Ireland, has said he is not proposing a tie-up scheme for Irish fishing vessels at present.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn commented: “Minister Creed is fully aware of the severe impact that this global crisis has had on our fishing sector. All around the coast, boats have had to be tied up due to the collapse of their global fishing markets.
“Apart from availing of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, there has been no financial supports offered by the Minister and his Department to this key sector in crisis.
“If the reports are correct that he has not sought to deploy the European Commission’s temporary relief scheme, then this is a shocking dereliction of his responsibilities to our fishing communities as the Minister for the Marine.
“I understand that Portugal and Latvia have drawn down funds through this scheme and Britain has provided €11.5 million in supports to their fishing sector including €1.5 million for the North of Ireland.
“It’s now past time for the Minister to step up and stand up for Irish fishers in crisis”.