Mid-Ulster Sinn Féin public representatives met with a number of Lough Neagh fishermen in Toomebridge last Friday.
The meeting focused on the sustainability and needs of the eel and scale fishing industries to the lough shore area.
The meeting heard concerns from the fishermen in terms of possible impacts of Brexit to eel exports, the loss of EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Status and the EU interpretation of the eel becoming an endangered species all of which presently contributes to the uncertainty around the long term sustainability of the industry at present.
Commenting Sinn Féin Loughshore Councillor Ronan Mc Ginley said;
“The meeting was very informative in terms of obtaining an understanding of the major challenges being faced by the fishermen along the lough. The implications around the north`s withdrawal from the European Union present this local industry with many uncertainties and problems at present”.
Cllr McGinley continued;
“Fishing families have proven their resilience down through the generations within the lough shore area. The present generation are determined to overcome these challenges, one of which is being able to build family homes and reside within the lough shore countryside. The fishermen are seeking the adoption of rural planning policies of a similar nature to that which currently exists for farmers who wish to reside in the countryside.
Fishing families in the lough shore area should have similar opportunities to that of rural farmers to apply for planning permissions. Sinn Féin have committed to having Mid-Ulster District Council along with other councils along the lough shore, explore the possibilities to create new planning policies for family fishing businesses allowing them to sustain their businesses”
Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy said;
“I support the principle within planning that fishermen should have the same rights to building a home in the rural area as farmers, which is currently one house every ten years.
‘Fishermen make a great contribution to the rural community and it is important that they have the right to build a home to continue the line of fishermen and women.
‘There are a number of issues which are as relevant to fishing as they are to farming- for example, compensation for disasters such as flooding- I feel that the department need to consider this.’
The meeting of the Mid Ulster District Council Environment Committee met during the week to discuss bonfires.
The meeting was attended by all parties, and was focussed on bonfires that take place on Mid Ulster Council property.
Chair of the committee, Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley, said after the meeting;
“I believe the meeting went well. There is always the potential for disagreement on issues like this, but I am glad councillors approached it in a mature and respectful manner. We have a unanimous agreement on how to move positively forward, and I look forward to the outcomes produced by the Bonfire Working Group over the next few months”.
Cllr McGinley cont;
“This was never an attack on culture. The council has a responsibility when events take place on its property to ensure a safe place for all, accountability and respect. Burning illegal materials, lack of insurance, hate crimes etc are examples where this council needs to step up and ensure risk is reduced. The approach agreed by all parties on Thursday night will lay the foundations for accountable, safe and respectful use of council property”.
Sinn Féin’s Group Leader Ronan McGinley has said his party is prepared and ready for a big year ahead for the Mid Ulster District Council.
The council is due to hold its AGM on the 1st of June in Dungannon.
Cllr McGinley said :
“Sinn Féin has continued to be the driving force behind the Mid Ulster District Council moving positively forward. The council achieved a great deal in its first three years, and Sinn Féin has been critical to this success. By working in positive partnership with council staff, we have ensured a high standard of service delivery for the people of Mid Ulster”.
Sinn Féin has not disclosed who will be taking positions of responsibility for the incoming year, however it has been confirmed that Cllr McGinley will continue as the parties Group Leader in Mid Ulster.
Speaking after an internal Sinn Féin meeting, Cllr McGinley said;
“I’m proud to have been selected again by the Sinn Féin Council team to lead the group into the 2017/18 term. I will continue to fulfil the role to the best of my ability, and have no doubt Sinn Féin will continue to deliver for the people of Mid Ulster. Our council team is very strong and experienced, and it’s a privilege to work along side them to represent the people of Mid Ulster”.
Sinn Féin are expected to nominate a number of positions of responsibility within the council on the 1st June.