Friday, January 12, 2007

Double tragedy at Sea

The loss of two Irish fishing trawlers off the Wexford / Waterford coast is the latest fishing tragedy to hit the area. As I write seven fishermen are missing, presumed drowned. Five men have been lost from the Dunmore East based Pére Charles while two more are missing from the Kinsale based Honeydew II. Two crewmen were saved from the latter which went down only 13 miles from the Pére Charles.

Fishing has played second-fiddle to agriculture in this country for generations and when Ireland joined the European Economic Community (forerunner to the European Union), Fianna Fáil sold out our fisheries to all comers. Now our Naval Service patrols Irish waters to protect it for ships of all EU nations, not just the Irish and indeed to enforce tight quotas which are needed because our fisheries were wiped out, mostly by our European 'partners'.

Investment in fisheries is a mere fraction of agriculture and many boats are old and dangerous.
Isn't it time Ireland protected its fisheries and our fisherfolk and told the EU to go jump? I think so.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Up the Creek without a Paddle

For an island nation Ireland largely turns its back on the sea.

A case in point is the current crisis in the Swansea-Cork Ferry Company. They sold their only vessel, the 35 year old M.V. Superferry a few months ago and now they have no ship for their 2007 season.

If you ever travelled on the Superferry in the last few years or just saw it steaming out from Cork Harbour you would see how much it had deteriorated. Anyone with half a brain could see it needed replacing. The Cork-Swansea route is a tough one - across St. George's Channel and past the famous Mumbles, graveyard of ships.

The ferry itself was born of crisis. Back in the 1980s the B+I Line went bust and the Swansea-Cork route was no more. The Cork - South Wales link goes back to the mid 19th century with no less than five separate ships called Innisfallen until the B+I collapsed. So in the mid 1980s the local authorities (Cork City Council and Swansea City Council mainly) got together with the local port authorities and stevedores and set up the Swansea-Cork Ferry Company to reopen the link with South Wales.

Over the years the local authority / public involvement in the company was diluted and the privateers took over. Now their mismanagement leaves a ferry service without a ship and 30 people without a job. Many more downstream jobs are on the line if something urgent isn't done.

* Update: April 2007 - I am glad that a freight ship has finally been found to carry goods between Cork and Swansea. The m.v. Victoria went into service on the route in late March, but it does not carry domestic passenger traffic, only commercial traffic. At least it will provide a vital economic link once again, but we still don't know if the full passenger / freight service will ever be renewed. At this stage, I am not hopeful.

Welcome to the Old Blog Cabin

I must admit I know next to nothing about blogs. I've seen a few and found them interesting so I decided to take the plunge and create my own. So I created The Old Blog Cabin and put up a few posts - then I forgot about it for a few months. So now I'm back and am going to change things a bit.

If you're interested follow me in this journey and see where it leads.