I congratulate Tom McSweeney of RTÉs Seascapes programme for his forthright views of the run-down of the marine sector by successive Irish governments in this week's edition of the popular weekly radio programme for mariners.
The marine has truly been neglected by Irish governments since the foundation of the state. Nearly a century of independence has done nothing for the maritime community in Ireland but cause it to decline drastically to the point where it has become unsustainable. Many rural communities are literally dying because of this neglect.
In this weeks programme Tom highlighted the virtual disappearance of the Department of the Marine. Once a stand-alone government department with its own minister, responsibility for maritime matters is now spread over three departments. In additon most ministers and very many of the civil servants dealing with maritime matters have had any real empathy with coastal communities, let alone practical experience of living in a coastal community or working at sea.
The decision to close down or drastically downgrade the long-serving coast guard stations at Valentia Island in Co. Kerry and Malin Head in Co. Donegal is another aspect of this government's ignorance on maritime matters.
Seascapes remains one of the best programmes on RTÉ and the strains of Ronald Binge's classic theme music "Sailing By" is heard weekly in many coastal communities and on board boats and ships of all sizes.