HC Deb 12 March 1895 vol 31 cc878-9
MR. J. G. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary I to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—(1) whether he is aware of the great loss and injury sustained by the fishermen oil St. John's Point, Killybegs, by steam trawlers in Donegal Bay, which have, within the present year, three times cut and carried away their fishing gear; (2) whether he is aware that the fishing population on St. John's Point consists of 40 families, who have no land or any other means of subsistence save that derived from fishing, and that the destruction of their fishing gear by these steam trawlers literally reduces them to starvation; (3) whether he is aware that in 1893 a Court was held by the Inspector of Fisheries for the purpose of investigating into the advisability of passing a by-law, to be ratified by the Lord Lieutenant in Council, prohibiting these steam trawlers from coming into Donegal Bay within a well-defined boundary line, as is the universal practice else where; and (4) whether, having regard to the great injury inflicted on these fishermen, and the danger that the irritation under which they suffer from the destruction of their property by the trawlers may lead to breaches of the peace, steps will be taken immediately for their protection, and for the security of their property, by cruisers or otherwise, from this molestation, for which there has hitherto been no redress?


Representations have been made to Government to the effect stated in the first paragraph; arid the statements in the second paragraph are also, I am informed, substantially correct. The inquiry referred to in the third paragraph was held, not in 1893, but in September of last year, and as a result of the investigation the Inspectors of Fisheries made a by-law proposing to prohibit steam trawling at all times within a line drawn from St. John's Point to Mullaghmore on the coast of Sligo, and also during certain months of each year within a line from Teelin to Inishmurray Island, and thence to Streeda Point, County Sligo. Owing to local representations recently made, a slight alteration seemed advisable in one of those defined lines, and a new by-law is in course of preparation, which will be submitted without unnecessary delay to the Privy Council for approval. Until the by-law shall have been passed there is no legal means of prohibiting steam trawling in these waters; but, of course, if a trawler knowingly destroys the gear of the line fishermen the latter have a legal remedy. The Inspectors of Fisheries, at the request of the owner of the trawler, have put him in communication with the fishermen, who have forwarded to him a list of their claims, and it is to be hoped a friendly arrangement will be arrived at between the parties.