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Taoiseach says “sea is in Irish blood”


The Taoiseach said more about the maritime sector this Friday, February 11, than I have heard him say in a long time.

At the ‘One Ocean Summit’ in Brest, France, he said the sea offered “job rich opportunities” to coastal and fishing communities and that the “sea is our blood” as Ireland’s maritime area is seven times its land mass.

The Summit was launched by French President Macron as part of his country’s Presidency of the EU and “a call to action for countries around the globe to protect the world’s oceans.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin’s primary focus was on Ireland’s offshore wind potential to help the State avoid energy vulnerability. “Our way out of that dependence is the development of offshore wind and particularly floating technologies into the future, green hydrogen and greater storage capacity as well.” He highlighted commitment to marine research and the passing of the Maritime Area Planning Act,for governance of Ireland’s offshore waters, a piece of legislation which excludes the fishing industry and aquaculture. There was no word of criticism of the way other EU nations have refused to share the burden of Brexit on fish quotas and how badly the Irish fishing industry has been treated. However, what he said is much more than the lack of appreciation that has been shown previously towards Ireland’s maritime sector.

He did come in for criticism by Michael Kingston, of the Betelgeuse Families Association who has been campaigning for improved Government attention to maritime safety. “All we hear from the Minister for Transport and the Taoiseach is ‘Offshore Wind’ as they fail to realise that the most important reform that Ireland could possibly achieve is that of our archaic maritime regulatory system, which is fundamentally broken and is the critical foundation block required for a safe expansion of our maritime footprint in renewables and otherwise.”

Does the Taoiseach’s speech indicate, hopefully, a new approach to the maritime sector by Government which shows appreciation of its importance to Ireland. I would very much like to interview the Taoiseach about his, apparently, new approach to the importance of maritime matters.

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