Colum Eastwood says Irish trawlers must be allowed to land at Greencastle after being contacted by frustrated fishermen

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood says he's been contacted by several Irish fishermen who have been prevented from landing catch at Greencastle in the wake of the end of the Brexit transition period.
Greencastle harbourGreencastle harbour
Greencastle harbour

He has urged the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots to engage with the Irish and EU authorities and find a solution.

He issued the call after a fishing vessel registered in Coleraine was prevented from fishing in Donegal waters and entering Greencastle harbour.

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"Since Northern Ireland was dragged from the European Union at the beginning of this year, we have seen the havoc at ports, issues for those travelling and lack of supply in our supermarkets.

"Fishermen have been able to fish cross border without hindrance for many years, but now unclear guidance from authorities have left many feeling frustrated.

"Several fishermen have contacted my office due to the significant issues they have faced as the Brexit transition period came to an end.

"Last week, boats registered in Coleraine were denied entry into Greencastle harbour in Donegal. Before the end of the transition period, these boats had been allowed to fish in waters off the North Coast and dock in Greencastle unhindered, but this is no longer an option for them," stated the SDLP leader.

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Mr. Eastwood said he has contacted Mr. Poots about the issue.

The matter was raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn says it is 'appalling' Irish fishermen with licences in the Six Counties are being prevented from landing fish at Greencastle.

He complained that Irish fishermen with licences in the north were being prevented from landing their fish in harbours and across the State, with the exception of Killybegs and Castletownbere.

He complained to the Taoiseach Michael Martin that the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority is preventing Irish fishermen from landing in Inishowen.

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The SFPA says UK registered vessels, including NI registered vessels, can only now land at the aforementioned ports in south Donegal and west Cork.

Mr. Eastwood said: "I have asked if this issue will be discussed as a matter of priority at the next North-South Ministerial Council, what financial assistance the Department is providing to support those impacted and what advice the Department provided to the fishing industry before the end of the transition period.

“The fishing industry in the North West has fished for decades without borders and across jurisdictions. It is the responsibility of those in Government North and South to find solutions to the many issues thrown up by the North's exit from the European Union.”

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Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the Government must designate more third-country ports in Donegal and around the Irish coast now to facilitate Irish fishermen who operate UK-registered vessels.

Deputy Pringle said: “There should be six or seven ports designated in Donegal alone, never mind the whole country.”

He added: “Ports such as Greencastle, Downings, Burtonport and many more are out of bounds for these vessels.”

He said the situation is not feasible for vessels that are Irish-owned and operated. He referred to a vessel in Burtonport worked by one man who now must travel to Killybegs to land. “This is dangerous, apart from anything else,” he said.

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Deputy Pringle said: “The Department of Marine knew this was a problem and never geared up to deal with it. There are vessels in Greencastle, all along the north coast of Donegal, in Arranmore and Burtonport, and they’re all affected.

“The Government could have dealt with this while the Brexit negotiations were ongoing and had ports all ready to go, and we wouldn’t have this problem.

“This must be dealt with now."