[Sinn Fein]

11th June 2003

Ferris questions Government role in Atlantic Dawn

The  Sinn  Fein  Spokesperson on Fisheries, Martin Ferris TD raised the issue of the  licensing of the Atlantic Dawn at Question Time in the Dáil this afternoon. Deputy  Ferris tabled the question following a number of queries from fishermen, and  in  the  light  of  last week's RTE Prime Time exposé of the role played by senior Government figures in securing the license in 2001.

Deputy  Ferris  asked the Minister for the Marine, Dermot Ahern, if he would not agree  that  the  decision by the then Minister Frank Fahey to issue a temporary merchant  licence to the Atlantic Dawn, in clear and conscious breach of EU law, needed to be explained.

"Would  he also agree that the unprecedented level of lobbying by members of the Government,  including  An Taoiseach, and EU Commissioner David Byrne, on behalf of  one  private  individual,  seriously undermined what one participant in last week's  Prime  Time  programme  termed  Ireland's "moral case" regarding fishing rights.

"Could  he  also explain to the House why one individual is able to attract such high  level  support  when  other  fishermen  find  it next to impossible to get explanations regarding their own queries regarding licence applications, and why decisions  such  as  the  current proposal to increase Harbour rates are brought forward without consulting the fishing organisations".

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