Lough Fishermen Demand Justice

Eamon Phoenix reports on the Lough Neagh Fisherman's Association for the Irish News

That every person engaged in the Lough fishing industry had been enrolled in the organisation was reported at a meeting of the committee of Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Association.

The president, Mr William McTeague, was in the chair at the meeting, which was held in Moortown, Ardboe.

A report states: 'Some short time ago it was found necessary to make an appeal amongst the fishermen for funds to enable the association to carry on, and the committee feel grateful for a very generous response which they have received. Handsome cheques were received from Lurgan district and all along the east shore to Toomebridge, and this, together with local subscriptions will give the committee a good start to carry on the great fight for their rights, a struggle which is as yet only in its infancy. This fight has now been forced upon them.

'The question of the fishery rights of Lough Neagh has long been a source of agitation and litigation, culminating a few years ago in the celebrated appeal to the House of Lords, at which grants dating back for centuries were quoted', the report stated.

'The majority decision given in the House of Lords then has always been looked upon with suspicion, and the claim by the lessees of the Toome Eel Fishery Company as being the owners of the eel fishing in the whole Lough, has always been stoutly contested by the fishermen.

'The crowning act in the prosecution was the confirmation of a number of bylaws by the northern government which bid fair to wipe out the fishing industry and send the remaining five or six hundred families, who are dependant on the fishing for their existence, after the large army of men, women and children who recently were compelled to leave its shores and flee in search of a home to distant lands, although unqualified for the work of their new sphere', the report concluded.

The chairman explained that the task now begun by the association was a heavy one, and they earnestly required the help of every lover of justice. The secretary was instructed to have (by the kindness of the press) the object of the association brought before the public, a great many of whom were not yet fully conversant with the facts of the case. After other business, the meeting was adjourned for a week.

Extract from Irish News, July 25 1928.
Supported by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation