Taoiseach Enda Kenny caught up in ‘fishy’ row over Galway salmon farm
9 October 2014
By: Dara Bradley
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is at the centre of a new storm over his ‘fishy’ elevation of a ‘champion’ of fish-farms to a ministerial position with responsibility for fish farming, after lobbying from the largest producer of farmed salmon in Ireland.
Mr Kenny has been lashed for promoting non-Irish speaking Donegal TD, Joe McHugh, to Junior Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs, given his support of the fish farm industry.
And, when making the appointment, An Taoiseach ‘lumped in’ natural resources to Minister McHugh’s new portfolio – which also means he has responsibility for Inland Fisheries Ireland, a body that is critical of fish farming and is not enthusiastic about the proposed fish farm in Galway Bay.
The addition of ‘natural resources’ to the Gaeltacht brief was described as “very odd” at the time of McHugh’s elevation.
And now the opposition has cried foul over the appointment and make-up of the brief after evidence claimed that Minister McHugh facilitated a meeting between Kenny and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and fish farm multi-national Marine Harvest.
Marine Harvest is in contention to operate the planned fish farm in Galway Bay; it has emerged it lobbied Mr Kenny for the appointment of a “champion of aqualculture” to “co-ordinate the work of” State bodies and agencies in the area of fish farming.
The meeting, facilitated by McHugh, who accompanied Marine Harvest to meet the Taoiseach, took place in January of this year – and in July, he was subsequently elevated to a junior ministry with responsibility for fish farms.
Documents released to Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages under Freedom of Information Act (FOI), show that McHugh was present at the meeting between Kenny, Coveney and CEO of Marine Harvest, Alf-Helge Aarskog.
Minutes of the meeting between Marine Harvest and Deputies Kenny, Coveney and McHugh as well as department officials, show that the multinational company “suggested that a champion for aquaculture be appointed to co-ordinate the work of the relevant departments and agencies involved” in licensing fish farming.