Killybegs jobs report controversy

THE REPORT from the Killybegs Jobs Task Force continues to generate controversy, with committee chairman Sean O’Donoghue saying it’s “a good news story” but Deputy Thomas Pringle calling it “disappointing” and “light on detail”.

THE REPORT from the Killybegs Jobs Task Force continues to generate controversy, with committee chairman Sean O’Donoghue saying it’s “a good news story” but Deputy Thomas Pringle calling it “disappointing” and “light on detail”.

The report, which was launched by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney on Wednesday evening, identifies how 250 jobs can be created in five sectors - 130 in seafood, 24 in ancillary services, 20 in offshore and 50 in marine tourism and leisure, and up to 40 in the green economy/renewable energy.

Joey Murrin, former chair of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, called the report “a cynical public relations exercise” that could “give people false hope”. He said it failed to address key issues such as whitefish discards, EU plans to introduce individual transferable quotas (ITQs) and the “hijacking” of the EU mackerel fishery by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Minster Coveney said he has “a lot of regard for” Mr Murrin but called his comments “disingenuous”. The Minister added: “He has legitimate concerns, but the issues he refers relate to the review of the Common Fisheries Policy, and this report is not just about fishing but about creating new employment opportunities in south Donegal.”

Thomas Pringle TD expressed disappointment at the “lack of detail” regarding jobs in the report. “The target job numbers for each of the actions do not show where or how they will be created...it is difficult to see how they will be verifiable jobs. Previously when there was talk of efficiencies in the processing sector it has meant job losses for many people in the town.”

He welcomed the Task Force’s integrated approach, however, as a “real positive”. He said: “Getting all the stakeholders around the table - the fishing industry, the Dept, LYIT and so on - to look at how Killybegs can develop is very important and something that has to be continued. This should ensure that any problems that arise can be dealt with before they escalate.”

Sean O’Donoghue, Chief Executive of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation and Chairperson of the Task Force, said the group had more than delivered on its mandate “of clearing identifying the actions required to deliver 250 jobs in the Killybegs region over the next three years”.

He said he was “very confident” that the initatives identified in the report would “redress the significant job losses that Killybegs has suffered in recent years.”

The Task Force had already identified 80 jobs in the seafood sector, Mr O’Donoghue noted. A further 100 jobs, beyond the 250 to be sourced within the next three years, could also be delivered in a longer timeframe, provided the report’s recommendations were implemented, he added.

He said the Task Force had identified “a number of constraints that are impacting negatively on job creation in the Killybegs region” including the management of Killybegs Harbour. “If these remain unresolved, they will impact on the job creation outcomes,” he cautioned.

Mr O’Donoghue also said the Task Force’s integrated approach to development would be the key to success.

“The Group believes that it is important that this integrated approach developed remains in place over the next three years to assist in the delivery of the implementation of this worthwhile initiative.”