|Cllr Anthony Kelly chairing the recent public meeting in support of the local fishing community in Kilmore Quay|
"During a recent storm, dangerous debris was being washed in against ships which had already paid an annual charge to be moored in the harbour," The Sinn Féin rep said, "Before the crews could move their vessels to safety, the harbour master demanded that another mooring fee be paid in advance. Many of these boats fished for lobster and their owners had made no income since November. They were left with a decision; find money somewhere or let their boats be destroyed."
"This incident is just the latest in a steady attempt to dehumanise the Kilmore Quay fishing community and to turn them into the villains of the ongoing EU quota saga. I chaired a recent meeting of over one hundred members of the South East fishing community in the Stella Maris Centre in Kilmore Quay which was also attended by Mary Lou McDonald TD, Martin Ferris TD and our EU candidate Liath Ní Riada. The stories we heard that day shocked us. As one man in the crowd said, fishermen are the only people in Ireland who fear their own armed forces, referring to the harassment that the fishing community has felt from the Irish Navy."
"Fishermen are not criminals and there is no justification for treating them in this manner. I am facilitating an emergency meeting between Wexford County Council and a delegation from the Kilmore Quay fishing community to iron out these differences and to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."
Local man Mick Roche, who will also be contesting next Mays local elections on the Sinn Féin ticket, described the incident as deplorable and called for an immediate shift in how both local and national government treat coastal communities.
"Many of our fishing crews only have work for half a month due to the roll out of the various quotas," he said, "They are also prevented from working due to adverse weather conditions and the damage that has been done to their vessels and equipment during the recent storms. However, despite having no work, life is made extremely difficult for them when they visit the Department of Social Protection. Many cannot access basic benefits when needed. This must change immediately and Sinn Féin will liaise with Annes Street and the local fishing communities over the coming weeks and months to try and get this rectified."