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 Header Item Fishery Harbour Centres (Continued)
 Header Item Hospital Facilities

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1006 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue] There are significant practical and cost implications for the State in the designation of EU ports for third country landings as, under EU regulations, such designations represent an entry point to the European Union, following which food is free to circulate within the full EU Common Market. On this basis, for any ports designated, Ireland is obliged to ensure that it has in place a meaningful control presence.

  As outlined by the Deputies, Dunmore East has not been designated at this point but this will be kept under review. In 2018, there were 15 landings by UK-registered Northern Ireland vessels into Dunmore East. This reduced to nine landings in 2019 and reduced further in 2020. Over the two years, 2018 and 2019, the total landings amounted to 318 tonnes into Dunmore East by UK-registered Northern Ireland vessels. I understand that these were landings of nephrops, mainly from the Smalls. I included Howth as a designated port at the beginning of the year and this provides a landing option for UK Northern Ireland-registered vessels fishing for nephrops in the large fishing grounds in the north Irish Sea and may also provide an option for such vessels fishing in the Smalls or Labidine. I designated Howth because, unlike Dunmore East, there were 26 landings by UK-registered vessels into Howth in 2018 and this increased to 28 landings in 2019.

  I can also assure the Deputies that the current ports designated and the opening times and days for those ports were decided to allow UK-registered Northern Ireland vessels to continue to land into Irish ports, while ensuring that the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, has the capacity to continue to perform its vital control functions effectively. I reassure the Deputies that the designation of ports for landings does not preclude vessels from coming into ports for force majeure reasons such as the need to reach a safe harbour.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I thank the Minister for his response and the clarification that he will keep all of this under review. This makes sense. It would also make sense to designate an additional port on the east coast. I listened very carefully to what the Minister said as to the reason Howth was picked over Dunmore East, but I do not believe it should be a case of one or the other; it could be both. I invite the Minister to visit the harbour at Dunmore East when restrictions are lifted. I have been in correspondence with him on a number of different issues relating to the harbour, its development and the development of ancillary businesses in the Dunmore East area. It is not just about boats landing for force majeure purposes. Regardless of the numbers the Minister cited, every boat that lands creates opportunities for businesses. When they are gone, those opportunities are gone, which represents a loss to the harbour and surrounding areas. I ask the Minister to look at this again and to visit the port at some point, when travel restrictions and his own commitments permit.

Deputy Matt Shanahan: Information on Matt Shanahan Zoom on Matt Shanahan I too welcome the Minister's statement. The one point I would make is that the comparison is not valid. If one looks at the size of Howth Harbour and the level of activity there and compares landings at Howth with those at Dunmore East, one will see that the landings are quite a lot more important to Dunmore East relatively. I ask the Minister to take that on board. Deputy Cullinane made a very good point about supporting and progressing commercial activity. We have had a lot of issues in the south and particularly in Dunmore East in trying to expand the fish processing sector in the region. There are obvious benefits to be obtained. We will again be debating the climate Bill in the House next week and we will be discussing emissions and so on. If one adds up the emissions of those boats being forced to go to Castletownbere or Howth, that metric alone represents a fair argument for designating Dunmore East Harbour.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Information on Marc Ó Cathasaigh Zoom on Marc Ó Cathasaigh I thank the Minister for coming in to take this question. I also welcome the fact that he is going to meet with us on 11 May. That is very welcome. As I understand it, the staff and infrastructure are there. I do not see this as involving any great additional cost. Deputy Shanahan has outlined the additional travel time involved in travelling in from, for example, the Smalls and the increased carbon emissions involved in doing so. It is a matter of cost efficiency. Fishers are already operating on very small margins. We should not make them travel this extra distance and incur those extra fuel costs to land their catch. Even a cursory look at a map of Ireland shows one that there is a massive swathe of our coastline between Castletownbere and Howth, which obviously serves a massive swathe of our offshore. This makes sense. This issue is easily solved without incurring any great cost. I welcome the Minister's commitment to keep this matter under review.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Minister going to visit the sunny south east during the summer?

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I look forward to it. I thank Deputies Ó Cathasaigh, Shanahan and Cullinane. As I said earlier, it is good to see the Waterford Deputies working together. The Minister of State, Deputy Butler, has spoken to me personally on this matter, as have the three Deputies. They have all also spoken to me on a number of fisheries issues pertinent to the county. I acknowledge all of their representations in that regard. I certainly look forward to visiting the county whenever time and the easing of restrictions allow. It has unfortunately not been possible as yet due to the Covid restrictions. I will have virtual engagements with the fisheries community and with Oireachtas Members over the two or three weeks with a view to engaging and connecting with all fishers and with representatives and stakeholders in coastal areas and the marine sector. I look forward to that.

The argument has been well made. The strategic importance of Dunmore East is very relevant in this regard. Certainly, when one looks at the map of Ireland, it is a strategically appropriate place for any additional designation. As I said, when I made the initial designations after Brexit, I did so in immediate response to the Brexit situation. I had to take into account the various pressures on the control authority at that time. I also took a significant look at the various landing patterns in different ports in making my designations. That was central to the assignments and designations I made. As I pointed out in my contribution, the number of landings by Northern Irish-registered UK vessels at Dunmore East is small and has been so over the last two or three years. Nonetheless, it is a strategically important location and, in coming to review it, I will certainly keep that in mind. The point was also made that there is Sea Fisheries Protection Agency, SFPA, infrastructure and offices in place, which is also an important consideration in this regard.

I thank the three Deputies and my ministerial colleague, Deputy Butler, for bringing this to my attention and for working together on behalf of the county. I will certainly continue to engage with them in seeking to make progress on this matter.

Hospital Facilities

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I thank the Ceann Comhairle very much for giving us the opportunity to discuss this very important issue. The National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh treats patients from all over our country for a broad range of orthopaedic conditions. The hospital has worked very hard over the years to improve access to treatment and to increase patient numbers. In Cavan-Monaghan and the neighbouring counties, there are many patients of all ages who are on long orthopaedic waiting lists. In many instances, people are in pain and immobile. These waiting lists are not acceptable.

I know from speaking to patients and people who have supported the hospital in Cappagh over the years, that it has the space to facilitate the provision of much-needed additional theatre and bed capacity. I understand that detailed and costed proposals are with the Department and the HSE. If implemented, these plans could be transformative for orthopaedic care nationally. In addition to new accommodation, some existing accommodation needs to be replaced. There are also additional requirements arising from Covid. The changing demographics in our country have also increased pressure on orthopaedic provision.

I have a particular interest in the hospital in Cappagh as I had an operation on my back there years ago. I am forever grateful for the treatment and care I received at that time. I know that many other patients of the hospital are very conscious of how excellent the care they get within it is. That is the message I have received constantly over the years from people who have attended the hospital in Cappagh.

It is heartbreaking to see children and teenagers immobile and in pain due to not getting appropriate treatment and surgical intervention.

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