commissioner The Mary Kate story highlights fatal flaws in Euro-cutter model as Irish naval architect reveals the issues in a letter of the Dutch media CJ Gaffney has asked the Minister Charlie McConalogue to withdraw comments over the ‘Mary Kate’ issue and to pay him the compensation due

EU Commissioner for Virginijus Sinkevičius has restated the European Commission’s opinion in the case of the Mary Kate WD-30

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius has restated the European Commission’s opinion that CJ Gaffney and his family should be compensated in the case of the Mary Kate WD-30.

Sinn Féin MEP, Chris MacManus had written to the Commissioner the case where CJ and his family had purchased a fishing vessel from Germany, where it was passed sea-worthy but later after two near fatal incidents, a naval architect found a serious defect in the design and build of the vessel, nearly two years after it passed the Irish Marine Survey Office (MSO) scrutiny.

Since then CJ and his family from Arklow, Co Wicklow have been fishiting for justice. You can read the full story on the Mary Kate WD-30 on a website set-up by the family.

In his reply, Commissioner Sinkevičius advises that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) compensate the Gaffney family from EU fisheries funding, as was advised previously by the Commission, but he says that the EU lacks jurisdiction in this matter and it is a decision only for the Irish government. CJ has been told by DAFM will no longer deal with the issue as they referred to the fact that this was a Department of Transport issue, as the MSO falls under its umbrella. Mr Gaffney was also told in the same letter that this was a private transaction and did not concern the Irish government, but a series of failures by surveyors to spot the fault, including the MSO, has left CJ and his family time-barred from taking legal action.

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In the letter, Commissioner Sinkevičius replies:

“The Commission investigated several ways to address the unfortunate case of fishing vessel Mary Kate WD30. Since 2009, when the Commission was initially approached, extensive correspondence and meetings took place with the vessel’s owner, as well as with Irish Members of the European Parliament and members of the Irish Oireachtas, who represented on his behalf.

“The Commission advised at the time to investigate potential EU contribution, such as financing of safety investments on board or granting of permanent cessation aid (decommissioning) under the European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013 (EFF) or the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-2020 (EMFF). However, the choice of measures and further selection of projects is a decision that can be taken only by the Irish authorities.

“In general, all the above-mentioned correspondence in relation to EFF or EMFF has been copied to the Irish EFF/EMFF managing authority (i.e. Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine – Marine Programmes Division).

“While having taken due note of the situation of the vessel’s owner, the Commission recalls the lack of EU jurisdiction in this case, as all the identified aspects related to it are under the national competences of the Member State.”

Responding to the letter CJ told The Fishing Daily, “The biggest part that comes back for me is that I went to court in Germany and Holland, and I was told I was time barred. The Irish High Court says I haven’t jurisdiction.

“So now the European Union says I have no jurisdiction. So, my thing is how in 2022 when the EU was founded on human rights, free trade, consumer rights and all this, that I have none.

“I’m not even allowed to go to court. I just kind of fell into the abyss because it’s a fishing boat.”

by Oliver McBride

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Commissioner Sinkevicius restates opinion in Mary Kate WD-30 case

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