Marine industry still wants its own minister


Marine industry representatives are still pressing for the appointment of a "super" junior minister, while welcoming a Government promise to restore the title "Marine" to the Department of Communications and Natural Resources.

The Minister for Communications and Natural Resources, Mr Ahern, has said the Taoiseach will restore the full title to his Department and maintains that the only reason it was dropped was length.

The new Department's major brief will be communications and it will also have responsibility for energy.

However, industry representatives have said that the "downgrading" of the old Department of the Marine and Natural Resources can only be compensated for by the appointment of a junior minister who has a seat at Cabinet table.

Mr Jason Whooley of the Irish South and West Fishermen's Organisation (IS&WFO), said that restoration of the name was an improvement, but the original ministry had still been "demoted" by the Taoiseach.

"We need, and expect, a super junior minister to remedy this situation," he said.

The row comes at a critical point in the European Commission's review of the Common Fisheries Policy, with Ireland holding the second-largest sea area in Europe.

The new Irish South and East Fishermen's Organisation, which held its first meeting in Carlow earlier this week, has also said that "in one stroke, the Taoiseach's advisers have done irreparable damage to Ireland's position at the negotiating table in the EU".