A Killybegs businessman is at the helm of a new campaign to regenerate Ireland’s six main fishery harbour centres.
John Shine is co-founder, with Sean Doran from Howth, of the Fishing for Jobs initiative. The project is a co-ordinated effort by representatives from Killybegs, Howth, Dunmore East, Castletownbere, Rossaveal and Dingle to press for the full implementation of the Business Plans for the Development of Fishery Harbour Centres prepared for the Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and published in February 2009.
“The plan has been lying on the shelf gathering dust, while we listen to empty promises that it is being fully implemented,” John told the Democrat this week.
“The proof is in the pudding, in the fact that Killybegs and other harbours like it, are virtually on their knees instead of being the flourishing commercial centres they could so very easily be.
“There are people in each of these centres who are willing to invest in new businesses, to create and maintain jobs. They’ve got the ideas, the energy and the experience, but they are being blocked by an intransigent department that is unwilling or unable to see how their bureaucracy is strangling business.
“Everything we’ve been saying all along is in this report - we need longer leases at more commercial rates, to be able to diversify into other businesses as fishing quotas tumble, and a department that shows a willingness to work to help businesses.”
Newly-elected TD Thomas Pringle agrees. “Every issue that the businessmen have raised with me over the years with regard to the department is borne out by this report.
“John himself bought a building with a seven-year lease on it on the understanding that it would be renewed. Now he is stuck with a lease he can’t renew, which means he can’t access finance. The Dept. are constantly quoting ‘public procurement’ which I think is spurious.
“The Dept. need to get their act together if you look at the way they’ve behaved, they’re something wrong. Killybegs should be a commercial hub for the whole of south west Donegal and the pier is the heart of Killybegs.
“I am certainly calling for an opening up of Killybegs port to commercial interests. I will be raising the issue as a priority question for the Minister of the Marine Simon Coveney on April 13.”
The Fishing for Jobs campaign is seeking support. You can download the Department’s Report from www.agriculture.gov.ie or ring the Dept. to ask for a copy on 1890 200 510. To support the campaign, email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your story and contact details.