Micheal Martin defends Macron over ‘quasi-ineffective’ comment
And Ray Bassett said the bloc’s attitude is indicative of a “cold indifference” which illustrates how peripheral Dublin’s interests have become in the wake of Brexit. Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, was speaking after the chief executive of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, condemned a decision to suspend rules which previously permitted Irish fishermen to weigh their catches away from ports.
Mr Byrne asked for Brussels to present it with the evidence of rule breaches it said it had uncovered involving underreporting of catches, while calling on Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s Minister for the Marine, to stand up for the industry.
However, Mr Bassett, a leading Irish eurosceptic and advocate of a so-called Irexit, suggested a tough stance from Dublin was unlikely.
He told Express.co.uk: “The penalty that the EU Commission has imposed on the Irish fishing fleet is just the latest measure to undermine the industry.
“It is absolutely outrageous that they have imposed this draconian measure without outlining in any way the detailed charges or given examples of any suspected illegalities.
Emmanuel Macron’s France would never be treated in such a way, said Mr Bassett
Micheal Martin and Emmanuel Macron in Brussels last year
“The real crime here is the expropriation of the bulk of Ireland’s fisheries resources by Brussels and then giving them to Spanish, French, Dutch, etc. interests.
“It is estimated that Ireland has lost hundreds of millions of euro in catches and downstream processing from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
“No wonder that euroscepticism is strong among Irish fishermen.”
Mr Bassett outlined his concerns about his country’s treatment by Brussels in last year’s book, Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, and he suggested the European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, was guilty of double-standards.
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Micheal Martin, Ireland’s Taoiseach
He explained: “Brussels would not dare take similar action against the French or the Spanish.
“They know that the present Irish Government does not have the political will to oppose Brussels, even when the EU have clearly acted against Ireland’s interests.”
As for Mr McConalogue himself, he said: “I have no doubt that the Fisheries Minister Charlie McConalogue would love to stand up to Brussels on this issue on behalf of his constituents in Donegal.
“But he knows he would get little support within Government.
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Charlie McConalogue was effectively powerless to act, said Mr Bassett
Fishing boats tied up in Cork
“The Civil Service, especially Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Foreign Affairs Departments, would have an apoplexy by any display of independent thought.
“The Minister is trapped within a system where he would have to be very strong to overcome the institutional groupthink on Europe.
“It would be career-threatening within the present Government.
“The post Brexit period for Ireland in the EU has been characterised by a cold indifference to Irish interests in Brussels.
European fisheries mapped
“Ireland has become very peripheral to those exercising power in the EU.”
Mr Byrne told Tom McSweeney during his Maritime Ireland radio programme on RTE: “The Irish sector has had no visibility of the body of evidence against it that led to this draconian decision.
“We are working in a completely blind way.
“The Commission has taken this decision and, obviously, there is information contained within that, but none of us has seen that.
An Irish fishing boat off the coast of Wexford
“This has had a devastating effect on the fisheries sector.
“We need more visibility, because this is going to impact every level, at every sector of the fisheries in the next two years.
“No one knows what we’re accused of.
“We can defend our record on our plans, digitally and robustly and we will do that. But let’s see the charges against us.”