independent

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Fishermen in plan to stage protest at Greystones Harbour

Greystones Harbour
Greystones Harbour

Mary Fogarty

Protesting fishermen will bring their boats to the harbour in Greystones on Saturday afternoon to unload their catch, in deliberate breach of by laws.

They are objecting to what they say is Wicklow County Council's refusal to allow commercial fishermen to use their home port of Greystones to carry on their business.

When work on the new harbour began in 2008, the local fishing boats were deprived of access to their moorings but promised that berths would again be provided to them once the new harbour opened.

'This promise was broken, despite talks between the fishers and representatives from Sisk in July 2014 at which Sisk promised to provide the berths,' said a spokesman for the fishermen.

'The subsequent harbour by-laws drafted by Wicklow County Council officials effectively excluded fishing boats by preventing them landing any catch and imposing impossibly high fees. But the fishing crews have not given up, and will relaunch their campaign for full access to their home port next Saturday.'

'Discussions took place with the fishermen in 2017 and a landing area was identified at that time,' said Wicklow County Council in a statement. 'However, the fishermen have not been in contact since then. Meanwhile the harbour continues to be well-used and is a popular amenity for the community of Greystones.'

Three boats, owned by local fishers, will land their catch at about 4.30 p.m. at Greystones harbour, in a deliberate breach of the by-laws.

Skippers Ivan Toole, Tim Storey and Peter Ryan will enter the harbour and land their catch, in the first action of their fresh campaign for the right to return to their home port and carry on their business locally.

At present, they must berth as far away as Dun Laoghaire, motor to their traditional fishing grounds off Bray Head and Greystones to fish, then return to south Dublin to land the catch, which they may then have to drive by land to Greystones or elsewhere to sell.

It has been 12 years since fishing boats were permitted to unload their catch at the harbour in Greystones.

'Greystones was first established as a fishing port, and every harbour built here has been used by fishing boats - until this one,' said the spokesman.

'Fishing has long been a way of life and source of income and food for local families. These families' livelihoods are now under threat due to their exclusion from Greystones harbour and the untenable conditions there, high fees, restraints and the privatisation of what was a public amenity.'

The original plans for the harbour included a place for commercial fishermen. 'When An Bord Pleanála refused the first design the redesign eliminated that space but nobody noticed, even among the 3,000 people who made submissions,' said Cllr Derek Mitchell.

'The way it is constructed makes it very difficult to unload anywhere. I felt some arrangement should be made, a number were tried including laying special moorings, but none has worked out.'

Ivan Toole and his crew participated in a similar demonstration at the harbour in August 2014. Even though he fishes around Greystones, he does the round trip to Dun Laoghaire Harbour each day, spending hundreds of extra Euros per week on fuel.

Mr Toole said at that time that prior to the construction of the new marina, the fishermen were 'promised all sorts of things' including water and electricity.

Mr Toole said that during the summer of 2014, a senior representative of Sisk promised a gate, mooring cleats, an area to drive their van in, and space to collect the catch, none of which emerged.

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