Pringle says Fisheries Bill legalises practices that ‘devastated’ fishermen in the past

A Donegal TD says legislation now going through the Oireachtas legalises practices that have devastated small fishermen in his county in the past.

Independent Thomas Pringle was speaking on the Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill which seeks to give reciprocal rights to boats owned and operated in Northern Ireland and the Republic to fish within Ireland’s six-mile zone.

The debate comes as Donegal fisherman Gerard Kelly went on hunger strike outside Leinster House earlier this week in protest over the legislation.

Deputy Pringle said the Bill was sitting in a drawer for most a year but is now being rushed through with the approach of Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Bill passed all stages in the Dail yesterday evening.

The bill allows for the reinstatement of a North-South fishing deal that existed between the 1960s and 2016 allowing vessels from Northern Ireland to fish in Republic of Ireland waters and vice-versa.

The bill was passed by 71 votes in favour with 8 votes against.

The bill was needed after the Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that a so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ allowing for reciprocal fishing rights was not legal.