Brexit: Micheal Martin says deal ‘in best interest’ of everyone
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Ray Bassett said fury was rising within the Irish fishing industry – and said his country was paying the price for towing the Brussels line in Brexit negotiations, after which it had been “dropped like a hot potato”. Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, was speaking after Ireland’s Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue announced the creation of a taskforce to deal with its reduced quota share.
Estimates suggest Ireland’s fishermen will lose £37million per year by 2026.
Mr Bassett, told Express.co.uk: “There is no doubt but that Minister McConalogue has an impossible task.
“The allocation of fish catches in Irish waters is fairly miserable for the local fishermen.”
Dublin City University had put Ireland’s share at 20 percent of the total fish catch in the Irish maritime zone, with more than 80 percent going to foreign vessels.
Mr Bassett explained: “To compensate for this, the EU gave Ireland quota in UK waters.
“However, with Brexit that UK quota has been reduced. Ireland has taken the largest reduction in UK waters at 15 percent, along with Germany.
It is clear that Barnier and the Commission safeguarded the French allocation as much as possible to the detriment of the Irish
Turning his attention to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, he said: “It is clear that Barnier and the Commission safeguarded the French allocation as much as possible to the detriment of the Irish.
“Politically it was more important to assist Macron who will soon have to face a difficult re-election.
“Hence the Irish fishing industry is up in arms about the EU moves.”
Mr Bassett said the “obvious remedy” would be to give Ireland a larger share of the allocation in Irish waters – but Brussels was certain to refuse any such request.
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He added: “Irish fishermen are openly envious of British fishermen and are supportive of the UK efforts to regain its own fishing rights.
“They wish we had a Government in Dublin that would demand a fairer distribution of quota.
“Leo Varadkar hinted at a tougher Irish stand on the issue but nobody has any confidence that our Government will follow through.”
When he was Taoiseach before being replaced by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin last year, Fine Gael leader Mr Varadkar had stuck close to the official line dictated by the European Commission when it came to Brexit, pointed out Mr Bassett, who set out his ideas in his book, Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, published last year.
He said: “It is a severe lesson for Irish politicians who were fated and praised by Brussels during the Brexit negotiations when Ireland was useful for putting pressure on Britain.
“Once the EU/UK deal was done, Dublin was dropped like a hot potato.
“The most glaring example was the invocation of Article 16 in the NI Protocol to reimpose a border for vaccines on the island of Ireland, without even consulting Dublin or London.
“In addition, Dublin has been landed with a huge bill for the covid recovery fund.
“The severe cutbacks for Ireland in the fishing area is yet another example.
“It is clear that Ireland does not have much clout with the current EU Commission.”
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