TEMPLE BAR is surely the most improbable place on Earth for a spot of political banter.
By MYLES McENTEE, Monday 29 April 2013
The bustling little tourist enclave in the heart of our capital city is an unlikely hub for deep thinkers mulling over affairs of state.
Anyone who knows the beat would reckon there was no chance of discussing anything beyond the European Champions League shift of power from Spain to Germany — or where to get a cheap pint!
So it has to be a wonder of the world that as battalions of hens, stags and assorted adventure seekers milled around, I ended up on the receiving end of a bit of a go at the Agriculture Minister.
Yes, one Simon Coveney was occupying the thoughts of businessman Rory Harkin, who has been down that neck of the woods a lot longer than the rip-off boozers and restaurants.
He was there long before CIE was persuaded in the 80s to give up on its plan to turn the rundown area into a central bus station and it was transformed into the party hub it is today.
Indeed, it was the late Charlie Haughey who powered the creation of Dublin’s cultural quarter, though it may not have ended up quite as the artistic focus point he envisaged.
And at the heart of it all these uncertain days, Rory is celebrating 53 years catering for anglers at his tackle shop.
But he has a particular worry at the moment concerning the aforementioned Minister Coveney, who also has responsibility for marine matters.
A decision is imminent on a controversial plan by Bord Iascaigh Mhara to develop a €60million, 15,000-tonne deep sea organic salmon farm off the Aran island of Inis Oirr.
The state agency tasked with promoting seafish and aquaculture industries in Ireland hopes it will create 500 jobs, so Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have his speech writers on stand-by for the ensuing fanfare if it gets the go-ahead.
It’s not as simple as it seems, however, and a storm of Atlantic-like proportions has been whipped up with island dwellers caught in the swell.
Another state body, the Inland Fisheries, fears the giant could badly hit natural stocks as happened three decades ago when smaller cages in the Connemara area were blamed for sea lice decimation of salmon and trout.
Anglers, worth €100million a year to the tourist industry, are up in arms and 2,000 of them marched in protest at the Galway Bay project last month.
Avid salmon fisherman Rory told how the demo was reported in the international anglers’ bible, Trout & Salmon magazine.
In the article, award-winning environmentalist Orri Vigfusson is quoted appealing “to the Irish Government to stop this policy of ‘polluting to produce’ because it is at the expense of our wild fisheries and sustainable jobs built up over many years”.
Chairman of Great Fishing Houses of Ireland, Ballynahinch Castle owner Patrick O’Flaherty, claims the international community is watching in disbelief. And local Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv, a former Gaeltacht Affairs Minister, warns the issue could split the community just as Shell’s gas project did in nearby Mayo.
At the height of the fractious row over the onshore terminal, a prominent fly fisherman complained to Shell that dumping thousands of tonnes of peat could destroy his beloved salmon waters.
The objector was former Central Bank Governor TK Whitaker, the economist credited with steering economic reform in the sixties, who has a fishing lodge in the west.
Still hale and hearty at 96 years old, he was one in a long line of rod-casting banking bosses.
Rory had me wondering if Patrick Honohan, the current incumbent at the Central Bank that towers over his shop, is an angler.
The Government appears to sit up and listen to bankers.
So the Governor might just have a word in Minister Coveney’s ear on behalf of Dr Whitaker and his many angling pals.