Coveney denies Killybegs jobs plan is 'charade'

Mon, Nov 28, 2011, 00:00

MINISTER FOR the Marine Simon Coveney has rejected a claim by former fishing industry leader Joey Murrin that the State’s new jobs plan for Killybegs, Co Donegal, is a “charade”.

Mr Murrin, who ran for Fine Gael in the European elections in 1984 and is a former Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) chairman, has described the jobs plan as a “cynical public relations exercise” which could “give people false hope”.

Some 250 potential new posts are identified in the report by a high level group on job-creation in the Killybegs area, which Mr Coveney marked the publication of late last week.

The seafood sector has been responsible for 68 per cent of Killybegs employment, but the south Donegal port and hinterland have been facing serious challenges due to factors such as increasing quota restrictions.

The report was commissioned by Mr Coveney last June, and the group, involving a number of State organisations, businesses and the Minister’s department, was chaired by the chief executive of Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation Sean O’Donoghue.

It says the 250 posts can be created over a three-year period across five areas, including seafood, ancillary services, support for offshore energy developments, tourism and marine leisure.

Mr Murrin said the report was failing to address three fundamental problems – the “hijacking” of the EU mackerel fishery, on which the Killybegs supertrawler fleet has depended, by Iceland and the Faroe Islands; lack of action over whitefish discards despite previous proposals by Ireland; and plans by the EU to introduce individual transferable quotas (ITQs).

“Irish quotas will end up in the hands of France, Spain and Holland if the ITQ measure is approved in the new Common Fisheries Policy , and the Government can put a gate on Killybegs harbour and lock it up,” Mr Murrin said.

Mr Coveney said Mr Murrin, who he had “a lot of regard for”, was being disingenuous.

“He has legitimate concerns, but the issues he refers relate to the review of the CFP, and this report is not just about fishing but about creating new employment opportunities in south Donegal.”

Mr Coveney also denied he had opened a national seafood centre in Clonakilty, Co Cork, on Friday for the second time.

Former Fianna Fáil minister of state for the marine Tony Killeen opened BIM’s seafood development centre in Clonakilty on October 27th, 2009.

Mr Coveney said he had opened an entire seafood complex at Clonakilty on Friday, which the seafood centre was a “part of”.