Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Kerry Fish Factory.

21.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he is aware of the concern among the local fishermen at the fact that a State-subsidised fish factory (name supplied) near Cahirciveen, County Kerry is buying fish from Norwegian vessels instead of from Irish trawlers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I have been assured that the factory in question accepts all Irish caught fish suitable for processing offered to it and I am not aware of any instance where this assurance is not being honoured.

Is it or is not true that the firm in question is buying fish from Norwegian vessels? If that is true, does the Minister not think it desirable to assure Irish fishermen that whatever supplies they bring in will be purchased before supplies are taken from foreign trawlers?

The limited licence was granted on the request of Rainbow Limited to operate the fish factory on the basis that if they did not get a licence to import a total quantity of 300 tons of fish during the period ending 31st May—this was at the beginning of March—they would not have sufficient fish to continue their plant in operation to the degree they wished and they would have to lay off some of their workers. On this plea, and on the assurance that all the fish processed in the firm's factory from fish imported in this way under licence was for reexport and that all home caught fish would be given priority, the limited licence was granted. It was on the understanding that it would mean workers would not be paid off that we granted them this limited licence. We are not aware that suppliers of Irish caught fish have suffered in any instance. If they have so suffered we are not aware of it.

In view of apparent local apprehension on that score, will the Minister instruct the inspectors in the Fishery Division to visit the area to make inquiries so that local people will be assured that fish will be imported only when there are no local supplies? Will the Minister ensure that if any local person feels a grievance he will be given an opportunity to meet the inspectors?

This we are already doing because of a suggestion that there was possible discrimination in this respect.