'We are trying to earn an honest living': Flotilla in Cork city to highlight struggles faced by fishing industry -

'We are trying to earn an honest living': Flotilla in Cork city to highlight struggles faced by fishing industry -

The flotilla of fishing boats bethed at the Port of Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Boats from all along the coast of Cork made their way to the city Port on Wednesday morning to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles in the fishing industry due to Brexit, the pandemic and the new EU fishing quotas.

In an organised event, representatives from the industry held a demonstration at the quays and are walking to Turner's Cross to hand-deliver a letter to the office of Taoiseach Micheál Martin. 

Sisters Roisin and Clara Murphy at the demonstration.
Sisters Roisin and Clara Murphy at the demonstration.

Kennedy Quay was crowded with placards with warnings such as “3500 jobs to be axed in coastal communities”, while children were walking alongside moored boats with t-shirts that said “help save our coastal communities.” 

Castletownbere fisherman Damien Turner said he and his wife had made a video outlining the challenges and struggles they were enduring to highlight the ongoing issues.

A flotilla of fishing vessels have arrived in Cork City to deliever a warning to Taoiseach Micheál Martin — "the industry is dying". Picture: Greg Murphy
A flotilla of fishing vessels have arrived in Cork City to deliever a warning to Taoiseach Micheál Martin — "the industry is dying". Picture: Greg Murphy

“We made the video out of anger, frustration and hopelessness," he said. "I’m fishing 30 odd years, I look after the boat and my wife Catherine does the books and she never questions anything, but this year is the first year she asked me - is it worth it?”

Mr Turner said he loves his job and at 51 has no desire to retrain, but he said the books are no longer balancing.

“The response we have gotten to the video has been phenomenal. It's clear a lot of people in the coastal communities feel the same as us.”

 Families connected with trawler 'Emerald Isle' travelled from Union Hall to support the fishermen.
 Families connected with trawler 'Emerald Isle' travelled from Union Hall to support the fishermen.

Speaking to The Echo, John Nolan of Castletownbere fishing Co-op, said he felt the Irish government were just rolling over and the Irish people should be very angry about what is happening.

He hopes today's demonstration increases awareness among the general public of the issues.

A number of West Cork TDs and Councillors attended the ‘Show and Tell’ awareness campaign, offering support and showing solidarity with those in the industry.

Deputy Mayor Joe Carroll, Former County Mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy and Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Kelly and Independent Councillor Danny Collins were in attendance, along with TDs Micheal Collins and Christopher O’Sullivan.

West Cork TD Christopher O’Sullivan said he was there to show support with the industry that has been dealt blow after blow over the past two years.

Vessels tie up at Kennedy Quay.
Vessels tie up at Kennedy Quay.

The Cork South West Fianna Fáil TD said he was very passionate about the issue and he had been asked to bring a list of demands to An Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, which he had agreed to do.

In relation to the current quotas, Mr O’Sullivan said the Irish industry was not being treated fairly: “Whatever way you look at it it is completely wrong.” 

The Fianna Fáil TD said the Irish Government needed to go back to the EU and take a stronger stance.

One Cork skipper, whose boat sank earlier this month, told The Echo the difficulties faced by fishermen make him question whether he will stay in the industry.

Patrick Healy's fishing vessel the ‘Horizon’ caught fire in the early hours of May 14 and sank despite rescue efforts.  He plans to attend the protest, and said his future is uncertain. 

“The current restrictions in the fishing industry present me with a huge question mark whether I will invest thousands into an industry that is being failed by the Irish Government," he said. "I just want to do the job I love. Going out to sea and making a living.

"We are trying to earn an honest living. Fishing is a natural resource and there should be a separate Minister of Fisheries. We are united. All we want is for the government to listen."

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