Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting after receiving a parliamentary reply from Minister English which confirms that he will meet with the representative group following their request for a meeting.
“Fine Gael cannot escape the fact that full Ministerial approval for the mechanical harvesting of kelp in Bantry Bay was granted in 2014, and that Minister English himself approved the baseline report on the 30th November 2017.
“I was informed that Minister Damien English will meet with Bantry Bay – Protect Our Native Kelp Forest, a group of locally affected people shortly. This is a positive step but he must be open to changing his mind.
“I really do believe that Minister English should suspend the licence and allow for a comprehensive engagement with the local community to ensure that their views, opinions and concerns are listened to.
“We want to see local indigenous business thrive and prosper, but it cannot be at the expense of the local environment.
“I am disappointed that Minister English is not minded to order an Environmental Impact Assessment. While such an assessment is not explicitly required for the Minister to give approval, it would, I believe, show to the local community that he is conscious of their concerns and has an open mind.
“Harvesting of kelp should not be allowed to proceed until an EIA is performed. It would be negligence of the highest order to allow Bantry Bay to be damaged,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.