Fishing played key role in Irish election defeat –

Fishing played key role in Irish election defeat Published:  29 November, 2010

THE worrying state of Ireland’s fishing industry is thought to played a major part in the Irish Government’s by-election defeat in Donegal South west at the weekend.

Given the country’s current economic woes no-one was surprised that the ruling Fianna Fail candidate lost, but there were many raised eyebrows that the Sinn Fein candidate took a seat which many pundits predicted the Labour Party would win.

While the banking turmoil clearly influenced the result, there were a number of very local issues surrounding the fishing industry in a part of the country which includes Killybegs, Ireland’s main fishing port.

Fishing was the big issue on the island of Arranmore which once had a thriving industry where there were 35 boats, employing 150 islanders just over a decade ago. Today that number has been slashed to just a few vessels with less than 30 people now employed in fishing and locals are blaming the European Union and its restrictive fishing rules for the situation.

Sinn Fein, of course, takes an anti-EU stance and that will have won them votes .Even the main fishing port of Killybegs has suffered problems, with its high unemployment and once thriving fishing related  businesses boarded up.

Cathal Boyle, who  is a member of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation told the BBC that the port badly needed new investment. He said: “People who have not been here for five years cannot believe how different the town is today. There is a real worry of where and when new jobs are going to come from. The state of the fishing port had been the number one issue on the doorsteps across Donegal South West.”

Political pundits will now be watching to see if Sinn Fein can hold the seat in the General Election, which is expected early in the New Year.