The only way for Minister Joe Mc Hugh to prove otherwise is to be the best Minister for the protection of wild salmon ever.
Breaking News – this evening Taoiseach denies accusations from FF & SINN FEIN over Salmon farm licensing meetings. “diaspoireacht gineralta a bhi ann” or a general debate says the Taoiseach. Yeah right.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny caught up in ‘fishy’ row over Galway salmon farm
9 October 2014
By: Dara Bradley
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is at the centre of a new storm over his ‘fishy’ elevation of a ‘champion’ of fish-farms to a ministerial position with responsibility for fish farming, after lobbying from the largest producer of farmed salmon in Ireland.
Mr Kenny has been lashed for promoting non-Irish speaking Donegal TD, Joe McHugh, to Junior Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs, given his support of the fish farm industry.
And, when making the appointment, An Taoiseach ‘lumped in’ natural resources to Minister McHugh’s new portfolio – which also means he has responsibility for Inland Fisheries Ireland, a body that is critical of fish farming and is not enthusiastic about the proposed fish farm in Galway Bay.
The addition of ‘natural resources’ to the Gaeltacht brief was described as “very odd” at the time of McHugh’s elevation.
And now the opposition has cried foul over the appointment and make-up of the brief after evidence claimed that Minister McHugh facilitated a meeting between Kenny and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and fish farm multi-national Marine Harvest.
Marine Harvest is in contention to operate the planned fish farm in Galway Bay; it has emerged it lobbied Mr Kenny for the appointment of a “champion of aqualculture” to “co-ordinate the work of” State bodies and agencies in the area of fish farming.
The meeting, facilitated by McHugh, who accompanied Marine Harvest to meet the Taoiseach, took place in January of this year – and in July, he was subsequently elevated to a junior ministry with responsibility for fish farms.
Documents released to Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages under Freedom of Information Act (FOI), show that McHugh was present at the meeting between Kenny, Coveney and CEO of Marine Harvest, Alf-Helge Aarskog.
Minutes of the meeting between Marine Harvest and Deputies Kenny, Coveney and McHugh as well as department officials, show that the multinational company “suggested that a champion for aquaculture be appointed to co-ordinate the work of the relevant departments and agencies involved” in licensing fish farming.
Government accused of bias over controversial salmon farm plans
Galway Advertiser, Thu, Oct 09, 2014
BY KERNAN ANDREWS
Serious questions about Government impartiality and independence over controversial plans to construct a massive salmon farm off Inis Óirr have been raised following the emergence of minutes from a meeting between the Taoiseach and a fish farm industry giant.
The minutes relate to a meeting which took place in Government Buildings on January 30 between the Taoiseach, Minister Coveney, and senior personnel from the Taoiseach’s department and the Department of Agriculture, with Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Åarskog and other high ranking members of the company.
The minutes were released under the Freedom of Information Act to Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, and show An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Marine Minister Simon Coveney agreeing with Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Åarskog on progressing “the deep sea aquaculture initiative” in Galway Bay and for both the Taoiseach and the Minister to separatly hold further meetings with Marine Harvest.
The minutes have sent alarm bells ringing among anglers, environmentalists, some sections of the scientific community, and many TDs and councillors who oppose An Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s contentious proposal to construct a 1,126 acre, 15,000 tonne, open caged salmon fish farm off Inis Óirr.
Opponents allege that the minutes give the impression of the Government as willing to facilitate Marine Harvest’s requests, and in effect, being an agent for the company and its business interests in the State.
Independent Connemara councillor Thomas Welby stated this week that it is “incredulous that the Taoiseach and Minister would be openly discussing how they can put systems in place to facilitate one company”.
Cllr Welby is concerned by the meeting as Marine Harvest is the largest producer of farmed salmon in Ireland and , he alleges, potentially the only company capable of funding and operating the proposed development off the Aran Islands.
It should be stressed that the minutes do not indicate that Marine Harvest will have any running of the proposed farm or that the Government has made any decision in favour of the proposed structure.
However, Cllr Welby points to the conclusion of the minutes which outline “measures/steps” agreed between the parties, including that “the deep sea aquaculture initiative would be progressed in respect of Galway Bay”, and that this could only mean the proposed salmon farm.
For opponents of the proposed farm, the meeting illustrates that the Government may not be impartial on the issue and has largely made up its mind to give the go-ahead, despite the serious scientific and environmental questions which have been raised about the effects of such farms on wild salmon stocks.
Cllr Welby also feels there is a clear conflict of interest taking place in this meeting, especially for Minister Coveney, who in March 2013, following a question from Fine Gael Galway West TD Seán Kyne, said: “I must separate myself from the project to the extent that I need to make an independent decision.” The Minister has the ultimate responsibility to grant planning for the proposed farm.
Opponents are also worried by the request, made at the meeting by Marine Harvest, that the industry needs “a ‘champion’ to take a developmental role (as distinct from the regulatory role ) to drive forward the interests of the industry and to co-ordinate interactions with the EU Commission and Inland Fisheries Ireland. The company felt there should be ‘one voice’ communicating with the Commission from Ireland in relation to the industry
Sent from the desk of
Noel Carr Secretary FISSTA
Federation of Irish Salmon & Seatrout Anglers.
Address: Teelin Rd. Carrick. Co. Donegal Office Tel: 00353 749730300