Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on Minister Simon Coveney to intervene immediately to ensure ice plants in Howth, Kilmore and Dunmore East are re-opened by tomorrow and accused the Minister of sleepwalking into the crisis.
Liadh Ní Riada said:
“Fishermen along the East Coast are very concerned that their operations may be tied-up over the coming days and weeks as the ice plants in the three major ports are temporary closed due to health and safety concerns.
“The health and safety of workers has to be paramount and BIM are correct to give priority to the wellbeing of its employees and contractors. The current level of risk is due to under-resourcing of the fisheries sector by consecutive Governments over a number of decades, and the buck stops with Simon Coveney. For all their talk of recovery, this Government is lurching from one crisis to another, which is impacting on jobs and growth.
“Without ice, fishermen cannot ensure that their catch will arrive back to shore in saleable condition, so while there is still a limited supply of ice in each plant unless we have a resolution to the personnel shortages in the next day or two these fishing boats will, in effect, be tied to the harbour wall, with a huge negative impact on fishermen and those employed in support and processing industries.
“Had the Minister even a passing interest in the fisheries sector he would have been able to avert this crisis before it began by assigning additional resources to these plants. I am calling on him now to personally intervene in order to bring these plants back into operation immediately. In the meantime, ice must be supplied to fishermen at no extra cost in order to enable them to continue fishing.
“It is inconceivable that the fishing industry in three of Ireland’s biggest harbours would be allowed to grind to a halt. The lack of interest and political will, which has beset the industry over the years, is squarely to blame. This situation underlines the need for a Government that supports our fishing and maritime industries, and sees our fisheries as the backbone of a fair recovery for our coastal communities.”