PAT'S PATCH: Fishing for money

Pat McArt's takes a look at what's making the news

Pat McArt


Pat McArt



PAT'S PATCH: Fishing for money

Killybegs, Ireland's busiest fishing port in 2017

According to last Thursday's Democrat Killybegs was Ireland's busiest fishing port in 2017.
A report published by Bord Iascaigh Mhara disclosed that the total value of landings at the port amounted to €125m., up €37m. on 2016. And the really good news was that unlike most other ports the vast majority of fish landed - 84% - was by the Irish fleet.
Donegal is also leading the way in the fishing industry at national level with Greencastle, in Inishowen, along with Killybegs claiming almost 35% of the total value of landings in the country.
In terms of trade sales fishing contributed more than €1bn. to the Irish exchequer.

But here comes my gripe....

I have long held the view that the EU has done us little favours when it comes to fishing. Talk to any fishing expert and they will tell you that we have been hamstrung for the best part of 30 years of regulation by Brussels.
It's a simple fact if we did an 'Irexit' [I know, I know, it'll never happen!] and claimed back our rich territorial waters for our own exclusive use we could turn that one billion per year into multiple billions. And create thousands of jobs along the coast. The future could be golden if only we had the courage to go for it.
I keep telling you: our rabidly pro -European politicians don't want anyone really pushing for a big debate on the EU because it is not the wonderfully munificent organisation they keep telling us it is. Far from it.

It was widespread
As a young reporter back in the day I recall a very well known politician coming to the office and telling me that if he got one more report of a certain cleric physically abusing young lads at a certain school he would be going to the Gardai, and would be coming back to me to go public on the matter. This guy was no liberal lefty, far from it, so believe me it must have been bad when he was willing to criticise a Catholic priest at a time no one else was. He had no problem with the odd clip around the ear but baulked big time at abuse. He never did come back to me so I'm not sure how he resolved the issue.
This week Conor Murphy M.P. has come forward to say he was beaten and groomed by Fr. Malachy Finnegan at St Colman's College in Newry. More than a week ago former president, Mary McAleese, told of how her youngest brother was 'sadistically' abused by Finnegan.
None of this comes as a shock to me. Every time I meet at old school friend it's a cert that a story of abuse will eventually be related. That's fact. What is truly shocking is that so many people knew about the thuggery and the abuse but did nothing about it.

Planning power
Is it just me or do you think the planning folk in this country have way too much power?
Last week it was suggested that one-off rural houses could be a thing of the past if the planners get their way. Basically, what is being suggested in the new National Planning Framework is that where there is a vacant house in an area no permission will be given for a new build.
How this will work in practice is anyone's guess.
I have mentioned this before but it's worth repeating. One of my oldest friends lives in a remote area in central Donegal.
He got a site off his father to build a house about 30 years ago. By his own estimation two cars a day, at most, would go past his proposed dwelling, some days zero vehicles. When he put his application in it was refused; too near a corner, according to the planners.
He thought they were kidding, but on ringing up and pointing out how ridiculous the grounds for refusal were he was still told they were not for shifting. To cut to the chase - he had no choice to purchase another site at considerable expense.
It was petty officialdom gone mad.

Great publicity

I came across a programme on the BBC the other night from Glasgow entitled 'The Celtic Connection'. Luka Bloom sang his song, "In the city of Chicago, as the evening shadows fall there are people dreaming of the hills of Donegal.." and this was immediately followed by an artiste who sang 'The Hills of Donegal" which got a massive cheer from, I presume, a mainly Scottish audience. Great publicity for our wee home place.
And doesn't it show the old ties with Glasgow still run strong.

And finally
I just love it when the time changes.. I don't care if there is snow on the ground, as far as I'm concerned winter is, at last, over. I'm definitely one of those who suffers from that Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD syndrome) in that I hate dark days. I immediately cheer up when the days get longer. So everybody - get out and enjoy the light in the evenings.